We all had teachers who influenced us and helped make us the adults we are today. In 2014, we will be honoring teachers who are having a lasting impact on their students each and every day, and who have also had a lasting impact on our nation – because these teachers are veterans who have chosen to begin a new career in the classroom after serving in the armed forces.
Our schools across the United States are benefiting from these former service members who are proud to serve their country again as teachers. They bring their unique talents into classrooms and are influencing a new generation of students. The White House and the Department of Defense, through the Troops to Teachers program, are joining forces to bring veterans' unique talents to public schools. Veterans offer unmatched skills, experience, and dedication to the schools and students they now serve.
Our first spotlight is Troops to Teachers participant Jorge Pulleiro, a Spanish teacher at Wood River Middle School in Hailey, Idaho. Prior to becoming a middle school Spanish teacher, Mr. Pulleiro served in the United States Army for six years. His Army career took him from North Carolina to Heidelberg, Germany, and points in between. He served as a rear detachment commander for the Army in Germany; a protocol officer and escort for distinguished visitors; and as a team member of the casualty assistance center, where he was involved in the important and somber work of casualty incidents, family notification, casualty assistance, mortuary services and burial honors.
The Troops to Teachers program provided him with the counseling and assistance needed to successfully complete graduate studies and receive his teaching certification. He’s been in the classroom since 2005 as a Spanish language arts teacher. Mr. Pulleiro now uses the skills and experience gained in the Army and is proud to serve -- again -- as a teacher.
Jorge is the first to say that his military training and experience prepared him well for his work in the classroom.
“In the Army, I had to be a flexible and imaginative leader with positive and often urgent, effective reaction to the unexpected. These gained skills transferred to the education arena, as I constantly have to demonstrate flexibility and use imagination in the classroom.”
Jorge points out that a military leader doesn’t exist for his own individual personal value, but for his or her ability to show the way and inspire others to follow. The same is true for teachers, he says.
“As a teacher … my goal has always been to put my students first and to live in such a way that my students would want to follow my counsel.”
Wood River Middle School Principal, Mr. Fritz Peters, says that Mr. Pulleiro is an engaging and dynamic educator who not only leads by example, but continues to look for new ways to engage his students.
"He has organized a program to bring exchange students from Spain to our high school, and during our last trimester, we will have middle-level exchange students for the first time at Wood River Middle School. He is starting a travel program for our high-level Spanish speakers to travel to Puerto Rico, and he has initiated field trips for his students to attend cultural events that honor the arts in the Latino culture. In short, he has tons of initiative and is an excellent role model for our Latino students.”
We send a special thanks to Mr. Jorge Pulleiro and to all teachers who once served our Nation in uniform and are now serving our country again as teachers. We are grateful for your service.