I have met so many Military Spouse Teachers like me over the years. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a high school English teacher. It wasn’t only an interest, but a passion and a calling.
When I met my husband, I was more than thrilled to learn that the best ‘portable’ careers for spouses is nursing and teaching. Every location needs a teacher so I was thrilled to learn that I had already chosen the right passion and profession one of thousands of military spouse teachers.
Sixteen years later, I am exhausted.I have held seven different state teaching certifications and a few renewal certifications. I have taught both on and off base. I have learned the curriculum for grades 6-12. In each location and with each new move I jumped through various hoops to ensure that I met the different standards for each state.My pattern was test, certify, move, and test then certify again.
The interview process did not help either. My resume is riddled with red flags of only being on location for a few years. In fact, the longest I’ve taught in one district is 3 years; the shortest is one year.
In 2014 I thought I finally caught a break. We returned to Virginia, a state I had already held a teaching certification – now expired. Then the hoops appeared. I need CPR, First Aid, and AED training to recertify and renew my teaching certification.
I must agree with the state that these are acceptable hoops and a good use of my time and money. I confidently completed the classes only to have my application returned stating that I had a few more hoops to jump through As a renewal, these are easy enough tasks, but mean more paperwork to find after the move.
Can the National Board Teaching Certification help?My main saving grace in each move is that I earned my National Board Teaching Certification in 2004. Many states negate or minimize the hurdles most teachers encounter when seeking reciprocity. In two districts and different states, I know I was offered my teaching job solely based on my National Board Teaching Certification. New Jersey, at the time a state that did not accept reciprocity, only granted me a teaching certification based on my National Board Teaching Certification.
In two states I received additional annual stipends from the state as a classroom teacher with an active National Board Teaching Certification.
Teaching not a "portable" profession?Talking to other military spouses in the profession, I am certain that without my National Board Teaching Certification I would have left the classroom years ago. Between the state certification hurdles, cost of state exams and certification fees, and transferring to states that expect me to start the teaching certification over from day one, I am convinced that I would no longer choose teaching as my career.
I am not alone in finding frustration in the military’s deemed ‘portable’ career called teaching. It is still my passion to teach and now my joy to help keep other military spouses stay in the teaching profession.
Military Spouse Teachers join the conversation.On Thursday August 28 I am hosting a conversation with spouses across the nation to network and brainstorm great strategies to overcome the hurdles of transferring our teaching certification to a new state every couple of years.
I invite you to join the conversation. Bring your own past and current challenges and any tips you can offer to new spouses who have a calling to teach. RSVP here for Keeping Military Spouses in the Teaching Profession.
Amanda Trimillos is an Air Force Spouse of 17 years and mother of four. She is currently employed by National University in the NBC Teacher Leadership Center to support military-connected educators stay in the classroom as well as trains them to work specifically with military-connected students during relocation and deployment challenges.