By Debbie Gregory.
Now in its third year, Teach for America’s Military Veterans Initiative, You Served For America, Now Teach For America continues to recruit, train and place veterans in the nation’s highest-need schools.
Close to 300 veterans have enlisted in the program as they’ve made the switch to civilian life. Program Director Eryn Monticure said that these veterans bring a set of life skills that make them among the most effective teachers in the Teach for America program,.
“Veterans know what it means to work towards a common goal, and that, in a mission, everyone has a role to play,” she said.
Additionally, Monticure said vets’ strong leadership skills, organizational ability and experience working in diverse settings mean they are prepared to adapt to their students’ life situations, which often go beyond the lesson plan.
“It’s a hefty job ahead of you,” she said. “It’s a mission — a goal to change kids’ lives.”
It’s also an objective that cuts to the core of national service.
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, the program recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. The two-year teaching commitment comes with full salary and benefits, and opens a pathway into a career in education.
From 500 teachers in its first year, the program has grown today to 8,600 members teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country, as well as a 42,000-member alumni network actively engaged in education.
While veterans currently make up approximately one percent of the program, Monticure is determined to increase that percentage.
“In 2012 we began to see a significant growth in veterans’ applications, so we took a close look at that,” she said. “What we heard was that their desire to serve didn’t end with their military service.”