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New TAG Highlights Connection Between the Military and Educator Prep

Military Affiliation and Educator Preparation TAG“From the moment I stepped on the yellow footprints, I was teaching somebody something,” said SSgt. (Ret.) Isaiah Ybarra, who served as a Fixed Wing Crew Chief in the United States Marine Corps for nearly a decade. He now teaches social studies at an eastern North Carolina high school. He recalled palpable connections between serving in the military and serving as a teacher-leader, specifically reiterating the opportunity to change and improve the lives of others. Ybarra’s experience is not unique, as hundreds of new enrollments each year confirm education and teacher preparation are amongst the most popular fields for military-connected individuals.

Our gallant military has been a focal point of recent current events, from Veterans Day and the U.S. Marine Corps birthday in November to the 20th anniversary of September 11 just weeks following the United State’s withdrawal from a two-decade occupation of Afghanistan. As we consider the intricacies of military service and the complexities of civilian transition, we must also consider our own positionality, lens, and opportunity, especially if we are not veterans ourselves.

A new group of educational leaders aims to do just that. As educator preparation programs commit to addressing national staffing shortages with innovation and creativity, many do so in close proximity to military installations and a robust pipeline of service-minded individuals. Borne from those intersections was the AACTE Military Affiliation and Educator Preparation Topical Action Group, a new TAG that aims to highlight longstanding connections between the military and education as well as cultivate new opportunities between the two. The goal of the TAG is to marshal a network of educational leaders passionate about both the preparation of educators and service to individuals connected to our military. By sharing and defining best practices, conducting research, establishing partnerships, and engaging in critical conversations, the TAG hopes to unpack the impact our military has and enhance the effect it can have on the landscape of educator preparation. Hundreds of schools and communities across the nation entrust military-connected individuals to teach and lead our children, not just because we believe they have earned the right to do so, but because their character represents some of the BEST teachers to serve the position.

The Military Affiliation and Educator Preparation TAG held its inaugural meeting in September 2021. Though the TAG has already engaged in meaningful and impactful work, we hope to expand membership throughout the community of AACTE. If your work in educator preparation has intersected with military communities or you are passionate about serving those who have served, please connect with the Military Affiliation and Educator Preparation TAG.

We invite you to formally engage with this new TAG at upcoming events. Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET. An invitation to participate via Microsoft Teams will be sent in mid-January. Additionally, you are invited to attend the TAG Business Meeting and social reception scheduled to take place at AACTE’s 74th Annual Meeting  Saturday, March 5 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Details will be sent to the TAG membership directory in mid-February. If you are attending the Annual Meeting in New Orleans, you do not want to miss this opportunity to connect, engage, and advocate with like-minded leaders of educator preparation. The Military Affiliation and Educator Preparation Topical Action Group hopes to see you in The Big Easy.

To learn more about this TAG or to receive TAG-specific communication, please contact me at smithclay@ecu.edu.

Clay Smith is the chair of the AACTE Military Affiliation and Educator Preparation Topical Action Group (TAG).

Clay Smith Signature