SRU’s Troops to Teachers program receives five-year grant extension


US Army soldier holding books

Slippery Rock University’s Troops to Teachers program, which helps veterans with bachelor’s degrees obtain teaching certification, received a five-year federal grant extension through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

June 7, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Troops to Teachers initiative has received a five-year extension thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which recently received a $1.6 million federal grant to support the program.

The program, managed by the Department of Defense's Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, is designed to recruit and help military veterans who are considering a career in teaching. SRU was initially awarded a competitive grant of more than $272,000 to establish and fund the first year of the program, which will offer accelerated training toward teaching certification for veterans with bachelor's degree in secondary STEM and in world languages.

SRU will receive a portion of the grant extension to implement alternative certification pathways for veterans, with a one-year student-teacher residency that provides coaching and advising support. The funding will also allow SRU to expand their recruitment efforts in the third year of the program to veterans with bachelor's degrees in all subject areas.

Keith Dils Profile photo


"This grant secures the future of the Troops to Teachers program at SRU," said Keith Dils, dean of SRU's College of Education. "We're excited to be able to provide opportunities that will benefit troops at a time when there's a severe shortage of teachers around the country and in Pennsylvania in particular. The way we deliver these programs are convenient, and in some instances online, all while making sure that we're meeting the needs of our school districts within the state."

SRU will partner with Pittsburgh Public Schools to facilitate student-teacher residencies. According to the PDE, the number of instructional teacher certificates issued by the state has dropped from 16,614 in 2012 to 1,715 last year. There are currently 30 veterans who have either shown interest or are enrolled for the first year of SRU's Troops to Teachers program for 2018-19.

"Pennsylvania has a proud military heritage and is home to many tremendous veterans who want to continue serving their community," said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in a news release announcing the grant. "The Troops to Teachers program is a great way for veterans to bring their knowledge and skills to our classrooms, which benefits veterans and our students."

According to Dils, organizers are planning to incorporate a credit system based on an evaluation of veterans' military experience, as well as bonuses for veterans who choose to teach in high-need schools.

"Through this program, we help train the teachers who work with the troops so they understand their unique circumstances," Dils said. "We'll have officers who have worldly experiences leading military units. We're going to work with them so they know what they are getting into and we are able to set them up for success."

For more information about the Troops to Teachers program, click here.

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