WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WVEC) -- From the battlefield to the classroom, the College of William & Mary School of Education launches a new program. It's aimed at helping vets become teachers while also addressing the state-wide teacher shortage.
Since May, the William and Mary Troops to Teachers program has already met with more than 700 veterans, provided programs for 10 military bases, and collaborated with 17 teacher colleges and the Virginia Community College System working to encourage teaching as a second career.
"What I've learned with veterans is they're very strong leaders, they can command a classroom in a way others can't always. They are very loyal to each other and therefore to their students," said Kelley Clark, a Troops to Teachers Coordinator.
Through a statewide outreach program, the center offers veterans and those who are within one year of exiting the military guidance in meeting educational and licensure requirements to enter a wide variety of teaching fields.
The center aims to help address critical teacher shortages in Virginia, especially in underserved schools and high-need areas like math and science, and also, to help alleviate veteran unemployment.
"The goal is to help with the teacher shortage across the country by creating more teachers and making it a simple process for people to become teachers," said Clark. "And then at the same time to be helping veterans who are at a point in their lives that they want to give back in a different way."
Former Marine Charlie Foster, himself a William & Mary alumnus, is now the College's Veteran Liaison.
"Basically, the idea is that anybody who ever served in the military should be supported on their path to becoming a teacher," he said.