Veterans interested in becoming teachers through Shenandoah University’s Career Switcher program can have half of their tuition covered by Virginia’s Troops to Teachers Center at the College of William & Mary.
The Virginia Department of Education has allocated $760,000 in federal Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund (ESSER) money to the center to expand the commonwealth’s efforts to recruit veterans and retired military personnel for second careers as teachers. This effort includes providing funds to Virginia’s five certified Career Switcher programs, one of which is at Shenandoah.
Shenandoah has offered a Career Switcher program for 20 years, said Dennis Keffer, director of extended and distance education at the university. The Career Switcher program is open to students with a bachelor’s degree and three years of work experience or its equivalent who want to teach secondary education (grades 6-12).
The Troops for Teachers grant will provide Shenandoah with $27,500 to be distributed in 10 grants of $2,750 each to veterans or military personnel interested in becoming teachers through the program. Phase I, which is the instructional part of the program and takes about 18 weeks to complete, is $4,995, meaning the grant would cover about 55% of its total cost, Keffer said. Phase II of the program begins when a student holding a provisional license is hired by a public or state-approved private school to teach. Career switchers are mentored by experienced teachers and receive additional professional development before being eligible for full licensure to teach in Virginia.
“The need for teachers is extremely urgent in Virginia, and across the United States,” said Keffer, who also provided a list of the 2022-2023 top 10 teaching endorsement areas in Virginia with a critical shortage:
- Elementary Education PreK-6
- Special Education
- Middle Education Grades 6-8
- Career and Technical Education
- Mathematics Grades 6-12 (including Algebra 1)
- Science (Secondary)
- Foreign Language PreK-12
- English (Secondary)
- History and Social Science (Secondary)
- Health and Physical Education