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Clark County turns Nellis troops to teachers

Technical Sgt. Shanell Wingate, 99th Mission Support Squadron, signs her Troops to Teachers contract with the Clark County School District, Clark County, Nev. Assisting Sergeant Wingate is Dr. George Anne Rice, the district's associate superintendent of human resources. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Julie Parker)

Technical Sgt. Shanell Wingate, 99th Mission Support Squadron, signs her Troops to Teachers contract with the Clark County School District, Clark County, Nev. Assisting Sergeant Wingate is Dr. George Anne Rice, the district's associate superintendent of human resources. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Julie Parker)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The Clark County School District is teaming up with Nellis and the Troops to Teachers program in an effort to alleviate the district's teacher shortage.

The collaboration is what Dr. George Ann Rice, the district's associate superintendent of human resources, called a "revitalization of a partnership." The idea behind the partnership is to give military personnel the opportunity to pursue a second career in education.

The announcement was made Friday during a news conference at Manch Elementary School.

As part of the "No Child Left Behind" Act, Troops to Teachers allows military personnel who are interested in a teaching career to receive a stipend of $5,000 to defray the costs of certifications and additional college courses required for state accreditation, said Colonel (Ret.) Joe Morgan, the Mountain West Troops to Teachers director. An additional $5,000 is offered to those servicemembers who are willing to teach at an "at-risk" school.

A school is considered "at-risk" when 50 percent or more of the school's enrollment qualifies for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch program.

According to Dr. Rice, CCSD has hired about 150 troops from the program during the past four years, but a new program, Hire in Advance, has been developed and will place servicemembers in the school system before they receive their teaching accreditation.

In the past, the program was only made available to those who had completed their accreditation and were ready to begin teaching. With the new program in place, servicemembers who plan to separate or retire from the service are able to enter into a contract with the district prior to their last day of service.

"This program is different," Dr. Rice said. "We are going to be making offers to military and their spouses early."

The district's goal is to sign at least 200 teachers from the program beginning in the 2007-08 year, Rice said.

Two Nellis Airmen signed their contracts Friday.

Capt. Dayton Rogalski, 99th Medical Squadron information officer, plans to complete his requirements and begin teaching in 2007. The Las Vegas native has been working toward becoming a teacher in Clark County for several years.

"I am honored to be considered for this program," he said.

Technical Sgt. Shanell Wingate, 99th Mission Support Squadron unit deployment manager, also signed a contract with the school district during the press conference.

After six and a half years in the Air Force, Sergeant Wingate wanted to find a way to continue to serve. Looking into the Troops to Teachers program, she realized how she could do just that.

Lt. Col. Thomas Kelly, 99th Mission Support Squadron commander, will serve as the liaison for Nellis.

With Force Shaping and personnel cutbacks, the Air Force has been and will be experiencing over the next couple of years, the timing on this program couldn't be more perfect, the colonel said.

"On the civilian side, there is nothing more important than teaching our kids," he said. "This gives individuals who have been devoting their lives to service during their military career the opportunity to continue to serve."

Those interested in being selected for the program can teach for CCSD by choosing and successfully completing one of four options: currently holding a degree in education, taking online courses for certification from Rio Saldo College or through Western Governor's University, enrolling in the CCSD Alternate Route to Licensure program, or obtaining a Business and Industry license in a vocational area.

For more information, visit the Web site at www.ccsd.net/jobs.

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