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Continuing to Serve and Lead: 5 Reasons Military Veterans Join Teach For America

Teach For America military vets share the WHY behind their transition into the classroom

Military Veterans make up a crucial part of Teach For America's corps members.

By Alexzandria Cormier-Hill

December 3, 2019

Strong leadership. Service. Sacrifice. 

Three skills that are honed in military culture or through serving in our U.S. Military as well as in the classroom. It’s no wonder why hundreds of military veterans become Teach for America educators as a continuation of their service to the greater good. 

We asked our courageous alumni why they decided to transition into the education sector. Their answers reminded us of why their insight, guidance, and leadership are always wanted and needed within the classroom.

Leverage Your Leadership

“I knew that civil service, as well as federal service, was a way to give back and bring my experience as a Veteran to any community.”

Sergio R. Rodriguez
Oklahoma Corps Member 2014

“I hope that my legacy will be modeling a duty to reciprocity as the appropriate response to success, showing that service is an American value - this is 'not [just] a two-year commitment.'”

Alexander Clark
San Antonio Member 2012

“The legacy I would like to leave is an example of service. An example of answering the call of 'If not me, then who?'”

Brett Chappell
Phoenix Member 2012

Continue Your Passion for Service 

“I wanted to continue to serve and was attracted to TFA because it gave me an opportunity to influence change in the neighborhoods and regions with the most need.”

Matthew Engel
New York City Member 2019

“After separating from the military I found that continued service and mission-oriented work motivated me. Teach For America's mission inspired me and continues to inspire me.”

Brett Chappell
Phoenix Member 2012

“Although I am not a vet myself, I met my husband, who is active duty in the Navy, during my third year teaching after joining TFA. His leadership in the Navy and my own experience in TFA continues to push me to serve our country in any way that I can.”

Diana Pease
Jacksonville Member 2010

Continue to Serve

Apply to our 2020 corps today to leverage your leadership skills and make a lifelong impact on students. 


Leave a Legacy for Generations to Come

“I decided to start teaching because I felt the charge to continue to serve. I want to inspire the next generation of leaders to dream big and to make a plan so that their dreams can become reality. I want the next generation to understand that the only way we can move forward as a country is to leave a legacy and give back as much as we can. Also, I wanted to make math fun and relatable.”

Clyde Pitre
South Louisiana Member 2017

“I want the next generation to understand that the only way we can move forward as a country is to leave a legacy and give back as much as we can.”

Clyde Pitre
South Louisiana Member 2017

“I leave a legacy of service; one that is full of using one's ability to share one's abilities to make the lives of others secure and better.”

Kenneth E Coles
South Carolina Member 2019

Fight the Good Fight to Dismantle Education Inequity

“I want to impact my communities of color through education.”

Christopher Hick
New York City Member 2017

“[My legacy will be] acts of kindness, fearless leadership, and advocacy for vulnerable populations.”

Robert A Platt
Las Vegas Valley Member 2014

“[I want] my students [to] become advocates for themselves and impact others around them in a positive way.”

Christopher Hickson
New York City Member 2017

Empower Troops of Young Dreamers & Doers

“I would like my legacy to be two-fold. The first is our service members are much more than the stereotypes people see on tv and movies. We are not damaged/violent goods. I also want my students to know a life of service is rewarding. It won’t make you a million dollars but the joy of working to help students accomplish their goals is the best feeling”

Matthew Engel
New York City Member 2019

“No goal or dream is too big! It is ok to have multiple dreams and multiple courses of action to accomplish those dreams. Through perseverance and will they can do anything.”

Clyde Pitre
South Louisiana Member 2017

“My greatest point of pride is seeing my former students succeed, especially those who have gone on to serve their communities. One of my former students is a NYC policeman. Another is a teacher's aide and actually works alongside several faculty members from the school where I taught. Another former student of mine has been active in a program to foment computer science education for Latinx University students, and another is in the Army Reserves. I know I am probably being vain, but I would like to think that I had some role in influencing them and hopefully others to serve their decision to serve their communities.”

Jacob Frohnapple
New York City Member 2003

To honor the experience, leadership, and integrity our military veterans bring to the classroom, Teach for America created the Military Veterans Initiative to help support, train and guide our teachers through the next phase of their career.

If you’d like to explore your career options, access leadership mobility pathways, all while changing the trajectory of a child’s life - join Teach For America. We’d be proud to have you!