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Unsung Teacher Heroes and Heroines Recognized

This page is dedicated to the men and women of Texas Troops to Teachers who make a difference in the lives of school children all over our great state. Some offer words of wisdom, while others go to great lengths to motivate and inspire their students! We salute you all!

If you have pictures and stories to share about your own journey from troop to teacher, please send them to us, so that we can share with others who may be considering taking the same path.


Daniel Leija, "Dan, Dan, the Science Man"

Grade/Subject: 5th Grade,
Math & Science

School:
Gregorio Esparza Accelerated ES

School District:

Northside ISD

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leija2

 

My active duty photo is from my days working in hyperbaric medicine. In the photo I am teaching a young patient how to use his oxygen hood. My classroom photo finds me at home in my classroom, teaching my students about the wonders of nature...through the use of a snake on loan to us from the Region 20 living science lab.

You are an unfound treasure! Your wealth of real-world" experience coupled with the discipline and work ethic you have gained in the military would make you any principal's dream. Seize the opportunity. Make a difference in a child's life. Teach!

Most recently, Daniel Leija has been the subject of a White House article, spotlighting a participant of the Troops to Teachers program. Read it here!!



John Sumners

Grade/Subject: Automotive Technology Teacher

School: Marlin HS

School District:
Marlin ISD

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http://www.kwtx.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7902844#.UJEuLdTfj_c.facebook


Audrie Morgan Stewart

Grade/Subject: Special Ed

School: Gonzalo & Sofia Garcia ES

School District:

Canutillo ISD

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"I love teaching! I am a Special Education teacher who is blessed to work with a great administration, incredible co-teachers and amazing students. Teaching is not for the weak-hearted but those who really have a passion for educate our future. It maybe one of the hardest jobs you'll ever love."


David Desrosiers

Grade/Subject:
Government Teacher,
Social Studies Dept. Chair, Varsity Volleyball Coach

School: Horizon HS

School District:
Clint ISD

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derosiers

"The first picture is me in Saudi Arabia in 1990‑1991 and the second is a picture with my senior volleyball girls. All eight of my seniors received all‑district academic awards, six received all‑state academic awards, and we are waiting to hear if we made American Volleyball Coaches Association All‑American academic team. The team had 17 members this year with a combined GPA for the year of 93.36. The team did make the playoffs this years as well so they took care of both the classroom and the volleyball court."


Lyndon W. Atwell

Grade/Subject: Criminal Justice

School: United South HS

School District:
United ISD

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"Photo's attached are one of me while in country in Afghanistan. The other...of my [criminal justice] club, which I sponsor and help train the students for competitions that we will be attending throughout the state.
Words of Wisdom‑In the words spoken by Teddy Roosevelt "To educate a man in mind and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society." As a soldier and now as an educator, I would have to agree with this quote being that our children are the future leaders of our great nation."


Linda Tutko

Grade/Subject: 8th Grade Math & Algebra

School: Leal MS

School District:

Harlandale ISD

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"The first picture is me with my math team at our first 'MathCounts' competition this past February. The second picture is from my change of command ceremony when I relinquished command of the 50th Mission Support Squadron.
My name is Linda Tutko. I retired from the Air Force after 20 years of service and just completed my third year of teaching 8th grade math and Algebra at Leal Middle School in the Harlandale ISD. Leal Middle School is a Title I school which is nearly 100% Hispanic and nearly 100% free lunch. Despite the challenges these kids face, they shouldn't be counted out ‑ recognized status in 2010, winning robotics meets just three years after starting the program, and now competing in math competitions. If I can give any gems of wisdom, they would be don't have preconceived ideas about your students because of where they come from, they may surprise you, and if you set high expectations the students will rise to the occasion and meet or even exceed them. Oh, and be prepared for the students to work their way into your heart, it makes the hard work and long hours worthwhile."


Malcolm French

Grade/Subject: 8th Grade, Math

School: Randolph MS

School District:
Randolph Field ISD

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"I retired in 1995 after 24 years active duty U.S. Army. I have taught mathematics for 16 years in Texas public schools (10 years middle school; 6 years high school). I moved to a new school this past year...
Teaching is very rewarding but very demanding (you are totally in charge in your classroom, but many demands are placed on teachers outside the classroom). Military retirees are a tremendous asset to the teaching profession. I taught ROTC for 3 years while on active duty and wanted to teach after retirement. I did not have a teaching certification, so Troops to Teachers (TTT) was a perfect fit for me. I chose mathematics because of a nationwide shortage in math and science teachers. Teachers' pay has risen significantly since I entered the profession. Texas allows military retirees to buy up to 3 years service credit for their military service; you will qualify for a teacher retirement sooner; recommend you consider."


Michelle Schiefer

Grade/Subject:
Middle School Science

School: DeSoto West MS

School District:
DeSoto ISD

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"I am currently a TSgt. in the Texas Air National Guard. I have been in the Air National guard for over thirteen years. I teach science at Desoto West Middle School in Desoto, Texas. Teaching has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I have pursued. I would highly encourage anyone with any interest to pursue this noble calling."

Accolades: 2010-2011 Desoto ISD Mentor Teacher of the Year, 2009-2010 Desoto West MS Rookie of the Year Teacher


Nadja Root

Grade/Subject:
3rd Grade, Bilingual

School: Columbia Heights ES

School District:
Harlandale ISD

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"Thanks for the opportunity to share a little of my story. My name is Nadja Root and I teach at Columbia Heights Elementary School, San Antonio, TX. The focus of my first two years of teaching was in Science and Social Studies, for a group of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. Teaching for me has been very enlightening and rewarding - being able to see the kiddos go from minimal knowledge of a subject area to being able to shine on their state assessments. However, it's more than the test, it's seeing them become mature and full of knowledge. Next year I will be teaching 3rd grade (self-contained; bilingual). The pressure is on, the anxiety is building and the joy of teaching ready to be unleashed again!"


Kelly Snyder

Grade/Subject: 4th Grade, Gifted & Talented

School:
Reeces Creek ES 2010
Haynes ES 2011-2012

School District:
Killeen ISD

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"There are many ways to serve. Troops to Teachers helped me to transition to a new career. After four years at West Point and twenty years in the Army, I have found a new, fulfilling yet still patriotic job teaching 4th Grade gifted students in Killeen, Texas.  Since we are right by Fort Hood, and many of their parents deploy, it helps the students to have teachers who understand what they are going through.  I was teaching at Reeces Creek Elementary School, however we got so large they had to build a new school and split us in half. I will be helping to open our brand new Haynes Elementary School in August. I will continue to teach 4th grade gifted. Are you getting ready to ETS or retire?  Contact Troops to Teachers.  America’s future needs you!"


Isela Rios Moreno

Grade/Subject:
EC-12, Special Ed

School: Zamora MS

School District:
South San Antonio ISD

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riosmoreno

 

One day a person who was working as a teacher, and a previous armed forces member, crossed my path. I asked how she went about becoming a teacher. She enlightened me with information regarding Troops to Teachers and alternative certification.  I already had an undergrad and a grad degree, but still, it took me 6 months to really think about changing paths from working as a caseworker and really loving what I did. I looked into something similar from the education perspective, and God behold I come across making up my mind of continuing to service the “special population” that I had really come to love.  I looked into alternative certification in the special education area, and here I am 4 years later loving my job and really loving what I do.
I would not give it up until I am too old and no longer able to provide a service to the Special Population I have come to love.
I have completed 4 years and have signed a contract for academic year 2011/2012.  I am extremely happy with what I do.
THANK-YOU TROOPS TO TEACHERS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY GIVEN!

 



Earvin S. Larry

Grade/Subject: Business & Technology, Head Cross Country Coach, Asst. Basketball & Track Coach, Yearbook Editor

School: Commerce HS

School District:

Commerce ISD

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"I've been teaching in the Business and Technology Education Department at Commerce High School, Commerce, Texas
for 3 years. I teach Digital and Interactive Media, Business Law, Business Information Management and Desktop Publishing. I am also the Head Cross Country Coach, Assistant Basketball and Track Coach and the Yearbook Editor.

I truly enjoy Teaching and Coaching and I strive to make a positive impact on the lives of our students. Anyone interested in Teaching should have a passion for the profession and for the Kids. Don't treat it as a job."


Fred Wulff

Grade/Subject: 4th Grade Generalist

School: Martin ES

School District:

Northside ISD

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As prior military, we bring a myriad of skills and life experiences to the classroom that the newly graduated, college trained teacher can only dream about.  It’s those experiences and stories that my students love to hear about.  I weave them into my lessons and the students don’t even realize that they are learning. The Troops to Teachers program is an excellent source to assist you on this journey.
In addition to the help they can provide, I offer the following advice from my experience:
Get Into the Classroom: Volunteer as much as possible.  Better yet, become a substitute. The more time you spend in the classroom, the better prepared you’ll be before you get your own class.
Certification Programs: Get references and talk to other prior military people who went through certification programs.  It’s important to find a program that fits your needs and has a good reputation.  Troops for Teachers can help you with a list of options and contacts.   
 Use Mentors: The best school systems have mentor teachers.  Get into a program and use them.  The wealth of knowledge and ideas that prior military teachers provided was priceless.   
Attitude and Discipline: Many post-military teachers have some difficulty adjusting to “school discipline” at first. Don’t expect the same level of dedication or discipline from your students as you would from your fellow servicemen.   Think of them as your own children.  Give them a positive attitude and clear rules to follow.  Couple those rules with a loving and understanding heart and your students will excel. 
Stay Motivated:  This can be tough to do, but you need to stay motivated and enthusiastic.  If you have an energized classroom, your students will have fun, participate, and learn.

Ever since the birth of my children, I have used the following quote from an unknown author as a personal mantra, “One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”  The Thanksgiving card that I received from my former student validated my career choice as a teacher.  I’m making a difference!  By being an educator, you still serve our nation and you can make a difference too.



Patrick Corbett

Grade/Subject: Band

School: Fox Tech HS

School District:
San Antonio ISD

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The first photo is in my uniform from my days in "The President's Own" United States Marine Band and the other is conducting my band at Fox Tech High School in San Antonio, TX. I retired in 2008 with 20 years of service and started at Fox Tech in January 2011. I couldn't ask for a better group of kids.


Stephen C. Smith Sr.

Grade/Subject: 8th Grade, History

School: Elsie Robertson/Lancaster MS

School District:

Lancaster ISD

smith


"It's always important to learn from those around you. Our Eighth Grade team had a 96% passing rate on TAKS this past school year (8th Grade ‑‑ Exemplary TAKS scores two years in a row), because we all worked together and checked the egos at the door. As one of my colleagues loves to say, 'No one of us is smarter than all of us.'"


Roberto Trujillo Jr.

Grade/Subject:
Pre-K, Gross Motor Instructor

School: Burleson
Early Childhood Ed Center

School District:

Edgewood ISD

trujillo1


"Here is a photo in uniform from 10 years ago and a recent gym surroundings (I don't do classrooms, yet:)). I have been on a long trying road but would never trade traveled road for anything. Why? Because it has defined who I am - happy!" For two years, I moved around from one campus to another as a substitute teacher. At the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, I hesitantly took an assignment as a "floating sub" at a head start center. There were two other subs and we were to rotate with fifteen teachers at forty five minute intervals to provide the teachers with a conference period. The teachers were hired to teach the children all domains from the Texas Pre K Guidelines. When I rotated a class through the gym as a substitute, I noticed that I could teach the children something from my training as a Master Fitness Trainer. I marketed the idea to the administrator. I got hired as a Generalist Early Childhood thru 4th Grade Teacher with the Gross Motor Instructor title, I was also assigned a Para Professional. The other two head start centers were told to do the same in hiring a gym staff. Stay the course!


Debbie Cromwell Morgan

Grade/Subject:
6th Grade, Math/Science

School:
Ed Willkie MS

School District:
EMS ISD

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"I have been a member of Troops to Teachers since 2005. When I was in the Navy, I always felt like I was part of an important mission. I grew up in the Navy and was taught the Navy core values. As a teacher, I bring those values and experiences to the classroom. Teaching is an extention of another important mission."

Accolades include: 2011 Math Determination Award‑6th Graders, 2010‑2011 Camp Goddard Science Camp‑6th Graders, 2003 National Recruiter of the Year.

 


CarrieAnn Partch

Grade/Subject: Technology

School: Terrell Wells MS

School District:

Harlandale ISD

partch

partch

"I love working with Technology and be able to integrate Soldiers in my curriculum. Students are able to work on writing letters with computers to Soldiers who are deployed, then they are able to Skype them in the classroom. Many students have parents who are deployed and this lets them connect school to their own community. Troops to Teachers has given me the opportunity to use my skills from the Army and bring them into the classroom as a Teacher."

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