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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Vera Jordon knows she belongs in the classroom. Chenita Mumpfield is examining her options.

Both are military dependents looking into the new “Spouses to Teachers” program and both made a rainy trek from Camp Zama to Yokosuka Naval Base on Friday to learn more during a briefing at the Fleet Theater. A similar briefing is coming to Misawa on Monday.

“I’ve seen poor education systems and I want to make a difference there,” Jordan said. “I’ve seen teachers help students achieve their goals.”

Spouses to Teachers, or STT, is a pilot program the Department of Defense started two years ago as an offshoot of the established Troops to Teachers (TTT) program.

STT is focused on helping spouses of active-duty and reserve military members become public school teachers. In STT’s first year, six states signed on to participate. Now there are 14 (California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, Utah, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina).

“Spousal employment” is one of those “high-visibility” catch phrases being bandied about in the Department of Defense these days, said Ron Burton, who manages both STT and TTT for Florida. He spoke about the program at Friday’s Yokosuka briefing.

“That’s because ‘spousal employment’ correlates to another set of buzzwords: ‘quality of life,’” Burton said. “When spouses are frustrated about not being able to work, that adds another level of stress in the home.”

Like TTT, STT is not a certification program. Rather, it’s a tool to help prospective teachers navigate state education systems, as each state has its own policies. Both also are geared toward placing teachers in U.S. public schools, not Department of Defense Dependents Schools. Both programs require participants to have a bachelor’s degree.

Unlike the TTT program run through the Department of Education — which has had 9,000 participants since 1994 — STT is an experiment run through the Defense Department. There are other differences, too: Each person participating in TTT can get up to $10,000 in stipends and bonuses. STT maxes out at $600 and the money is restricted to covering the costs of certification exams.

But that might change if the interest is there, Burton said.

“If you are or you have a spouse even remotely considering this, have them enroll,” Burton told the audience Friday. “This is just a pilot — we’re trying to gauge the level of interest at this point.”

Althea Allison said she was interested. She’s working on her child psychology degree through the University of Maryland University College at Yokosuka.

“Teaching would be a good way to get immediate experience working with children,” Allison said. STT “might be a good foot in the door.”

STT representatives held briefings at Yokota Air Base last week and next are headed to Misawa Air Base to talk about both Spouses To Teachers and Troops to Teachers on Monday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. in the Airman Leadership School auditorium at Security Hill. Call the education office at DSN 226-4201 for more information on the Misawa briefings.

Visit www.spousestoteachers.com for more information on the Spouses to Teachers program.


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