Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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From the battlefield to the classroom

While some may find it difficult to get into the job market, UTEP’s military students studying education may have some extra help. Troops to Teachers, a Department of Defense program, aims to help military personnel interested in teaching find jobs in schools that need teachers the most.

The program provides career guidance and even grants to qualifying members.

“My job is to find the best military people we can find to get them into the classroom and help our students be the best they can be,” said Donald King, a local Troops to Teachers recruiter. “Vets might not know about education and education requirements. We help them take those first steps.”

King is a TTT alumnus, having joined the program in 1995 after spending decades in the military. He taught at the high school level until retiring from teaching this year.

Troops to Teachers is working with UTEP’s College of Education by giving military students a direct line to schools that need the most help.

“Veterans, from what I’ve seen, usually make the better mentors and impact the lives of others in ways that I wouldn’t think possible,” said Diego Lopez, junior nursing major.

TTT tries to install former military personnel as educators in schools that mainly serve lower-income students and have a teacher shortage.

“Soldiers have been in both the position of following orders and giving the orders themselves. With this kind of experience, they can easily help students develop good character traits and skills that will be useful later on in their lives,” Lopez said.

Veterans or not, many struggle to find jobs after graduation, and TTT guides its members through the process of getting certified in their preferred subject. Although the high cost of certification may make some question the field, TTT offers up to $10,000 in grants to help pay for classes and testing.

“You have a lot of high-ranking sergeants that may not have the money for certifications and this helps cut the cost,” said Gilberto Tijerina, a TTT member who is teaching social studies at Parkland High School. “I wouldn’t have been able to teach and gotten my degree without this.”

King said providing grants for aspiring teachers benefits everyone.

“What we want is to make sure we have the best qualified teachers,” King said. “We need to do something for our veterans, we need to help them the best we can to integrate them into the community.”

King also said members still have their work cut out for them. Although TTT provides advising, it is still up to the person to go through with all the hard work.

“Once you get all the necessary paperwork and certification, we’ll help you get to the right place,” King said.

Once they are placed, King said teaching could offer similar rewards to being in the military.

“I served for more than 20 years in the military and I’m happy to serve for the second time as a teacher,” King said.

For more information on the program, visit  or email King at [email protected].

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From the battlefield to the classroom