Veterans helping fill the gap in Colorado’s teacher shortage

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- As a new school year starts, Colorado is facing a critical shortage of teachers and the problem is only getting worse.

But some former soldiers are helping fill some of the shortfall.

Specialist 4 Sean Gallup is getting out of the Army to do something he's always wanted to do: Become a teacher.

"You should just constantly 100 percent be trying to teach someone something because for me the day you stop learning is the day you just become ignorant so I think teaching is one of the best professions there ever is," he said.

He's part of soldier transition classes at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

It's where those getting soon out soon learn about military-to-civilian career options such as Troops to Teachers by translating their military skills into the classroom.

"Sixty-three teachers last year in Colorado were placed," said Navy veteran John Scheuer, who runs Troops to Teachers for Colorado's Department of Education.

"A particular skill set that a Troops to Teachers program can bring into the classroom that an ordinary teacher coming out of a college of education might not have such as the discipline, the integrity, cultural diversity and sensitivity that they have with the kids in the classroom."

The Department of Education calls Colorado's teacher shortage a crisis.

Every year, coming up 3,500 teachers short of those needed in the classroom and the number is growing.

Assistant principal Frutoso Chavez used to be Marine marksmanship instructor.

"Making that transition especially from the military world over to education it's daunting," Chavez said.

But like a true Marine, he jumped in head first. He became a special education teacher in lower-income schools and winning Troops for Teachers Best Teacher of the Year Award.

And now he's the assistant principal at mostly minority East Middle School in Aurora.

"If you have that in your heart, if you're that kind of person and you want to serve your community want to serve the people you care about, it's a great calling it's a great transition from the military," Chavez said.

For some veterans, it's bringing what they taught in the military to continue serving in the classroom.

"Watching them like go from nothing to being extraordinary at the job like that makes me feel good," future teacher Gallup said.

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