Local News

More Retired Soldiers Are Starting Second Careers In The Classroom

Posted May 11, 2001 2:21 a.m. EDT

— Some retired soldiers are trading in their weapons for chalk as they start second careers in the classroom.

Joe Gonzalez was in the Army for 20 years. The 50-year-old military police officer and analyst is now a civics and economics teacher. He says he now teaches a lot of what he learned in the Army.

"If you are taught to do something, you do it or face the consequences. Those things become second nature to soldiers and that's what you try to instill in students," he says.

Principal Diane Antolak's husband made a similar transition. She says soldiers bring a team player attitude, loyalty and self-discipline to the job.

"That discipline shows up in a number of ways," she says. "It shows up in the way they structure their classroom and it shows up in their organization. All are tremendous assets to our children."

First Lady Laura Bush hopes to guide more soldiers into theTroops to Teachersprogram. She is encouraging the 28,000 service members who retire every year to take on a new mission and help meet the teaching shortage.

Now in his eighth year, Gonzalez is happy with his second career choice. His students are pleased as well.

"He teaches us that we have to show him respect, and when we give him respect, we are able to work in the classroom better," says student Courtney Locus.

The Troops to Teachers program includes referral and placement assistance. It used to offer money to help veterans take the courses they need to become certified.

There is legislation pending in Congress that would reinstate the funding for up to 3,000 military retirees.