Alabama veteran becomes teacher through ‘Troops to Teachers’ program

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Many of Alabama’s veterans come home after serving their country looking for jobs. One group, Troops to Teachers, is helping the state recruit top military personnel for the classroom.

Lt. Colonel James Cote is the first K-12 Troops to Teachers candidate in Alabama. Cote will be teaching health science at Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School in Montgomery.

Troops to Teachers was started in 1993 to help transitioning military veterans start new careers as teachers in elementary, middle and high school.

“I will say the most intimidating party of accepting this job is transitioning to 9th and 10th-grade student,” Cote said. 

During his years in the Air Force, 11 of which were served in the Nurse Corps, Cote trained 350 nurses and medics, in addition to working as a college instructor at Air University. Cote retired from the Air Force last month.

“I’ve always been interested in teaching, in the air force I’ve had 10 different assignments the three that I probably love the most were the three where I was teaching people,” Cote said. 

Cote also led a team of 19 instructors and directed the Aero-Medical Evacuation Nursing Curriculum Development at the U.S. Joint Readiness Training Center.

Tom Salter, spokesman for Montgomery Public Schools, said the school faculty are excited about the experience and leadership he will bring.

“It’s a great opportunity for not only our students to learn from these individuals who have had military training,” Salter said. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 1.9 million K-12 teaching jobs will become available nationwide between 2014 and 2024. 

To learn more about the “Troops to Teachers” program, contact Derwin Dubose, executive director of military and veterans programs at Stillman College, at 205-498-1911 or ddubose@stillman.edu

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