Troops To Teachers Participant Shares Good News from His First Year of Teaching

Posted : 10 September 2015

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By Jeff Vamvakias, Teacher, Cullowhee Valley School, N.C.

As a former U. S. Marine and member of Troops to Teachers (TTT), I would like to share some good news. I live and teach in Cullowhee, N.C., at Cullowhee Valley School, a Title 1, high need school. I am also a lateral entry teacher and have an NC INSPIRE teaching fellowship. I completed my first year of teaching 8th grade science last spring and, at the end of the school year, I was called in by the principal for my evaluation.

I was really worried, especially about how my students performed on the End-Of-Grade tests (EOGs). The principal looked at me and said, “In all my yearsteaching, I have never seen a first year teacher do what you did.” Now, I was really worried. I thought I was about to get broadsided because my students did so poorly on the EOG. But, instead, she told me that my students had gotten 79.9 percent on the EOGs, and she’d never seen a first-year teacher achieve that in all her year’s teaching. She also told me she was very ‘tough’ on evaluations and she never gave away high evaluations, but she had to give me what I’d honestly earned, and she gave me several ‘accomplished’ on my evaluation. She told me she’d never done that before for a first-year teacher.

I was overjoyed. And I want to share this good news because it proves that former Service members can become worthy, valuable, and highly successful teachers who have so much to offer students. There are many students who need solid adult role models in their lives, like my students, many of whom come from backgrounds of generational poverty.

If you are a Veteran thinking about teaching or joining the TTT program, your continued service can be critical to the lives of the kids who hold the key to the future of our country. Once, as military members, we dedicated our lives to the Service of our country, committed to protecting what we love. Now, once again, we can dedicate our lives to serve our country by guiding today’s youth, who will be tomorrow’s leaders, on a path toward excellence.

I salute all Veterans who are now serving as teachers and encourage the rest of you to consider what may well be the most rewarding commitment of your life.

If you would like to read about a science project raising trout for release into the wild conducted with my 8th grade classes earlier this year, go here: top_stories/ article_ea77f1da-9a9b-11e4-aa84-3b32c19f0df2.html.