Military spouses get help with teaching jobs
The Spouses to Teachers program offers certification guidance and more
When the Pentagon launched a program last year in Europe designed to help military spouses considering a career as teachers, it was swamped with e-mails and phone calls.
That's the success the military hopes to repeat in the Pacific, said Mae Ooka, a quality-of-life program analyst with the Pacific Command.
The program, called Spouses to Teachers, has been operational on the mainland since October 2004. When it was started in Europe last October, more than 9,100 spouses asked for more information.
The Pacific Command launched its version on Feb. 1, offering resources and counseling to military spouses seeking teaching jobs in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Guam and Okinawa.
Ooka said teaching is "a very portable career and a military spouse can take it anywhere."
She said the program provides counseling and guidance on state-specific certification requirements, certification options, scholarships available and state employment.
Up to $600 also is available via a voucher process to reimburse the costs of testing fees associated with teacher certification and licensing.
Brian Miller, education officer with the state Department of Education, said the $600 is one of the important parts of the new program since the testing fees are very expense and passage of the test is needed to get certified as a teacher in Hawaii.
"The DOE has always depended on military teachers in our classroom," said Miller, who retired here after serving 20 years in the Marine Corps.
Tylee Roller, the Pacific Command's Spouses to Teachers Program manager, said teaching is "a career that you can take with you around the world."
The Pacific Command says more than 70 percent of the military spouses registered with the program have a bachelor's degree or higher and "a lot of passion to instill learning in children."
On the mainland, the program is offered in 14 states -- California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Utah and South Carolina -- and covers 64 percent of the military spouse population in those states.
More than 3,500 spouses are registered with Spouses to Teachers on the mainland with 475 spouses hired in teaching positions with the program's assistance. More than 1,500 spouses have been reimbursed for teacher certification exams.
Eligible participants include spouses of active-duty personnel, selected reserve and National Guard, and Individual Ready Reserve recalled to active duty.
Miller also coordinates the federally funded Troops to Teachers program, which is designed to woo servicemembers leaving the military to enter the teaching profession.
"I like to look at it as an awards program, because it does offer a $5,000 stipend," Miller said.
In addition, there is a bonus of $10,000 for servicemembers who opt to teach in "high need," or low-income, poverty areas.
"Up to 95 percent of the people who leave the military have a bachelor's degree," Miller said. "What they lack is a teaching certificate."
Miller said these people can be hired as "emergency hire" teachers and have four years to get certified.