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Man goes from drill sergeant to Oklahoma City math teacher

Army veteran John Hill, 49, a math teacher in the Oklahoma City Public Schools, is one of about 280 full-time teachers in Oklahoma through the Troops to Teachers program.
BY LEIGHANNE MANWARREN lmanwarren@opubco.com Modified: July 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: July 28, 2013
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Hill set high expectations for his classroom.

“I actually relied very heavily on my experience as a drill sergeant when I went into the classroom at Star Spencer,” Hill said. “I think my experience as a drill sergeant and not expecting anything less than the standard that I set forth before them ... I think that's what helped me survive out there.”

This school year, Hill is moving to Southeast High School to be closer to home and to his wife, who is disabled.

“I loved my time at Star Spencer,” he said. “When I first went out there, I thought, ‘Uh, this will be a year or two type thing,' but the hardest thing in the world was for me to leave.”

Making the grade

The Troops to Teachers program in Oklahoma began in 1995 and currently has about 280 full-time teachers in classrooms, state Director Shelby Satterfield said.

“Our program goes and visits the bases and we recruit military people with (at least bachelor's) degrees, put them through the alternative certification process and basically put them in the classroom,” he said.

The program offers veterans a $5,000 stipend to help them earn their alternative certification and the possibility of a $10,000 bonus for teaching at an at-need school for three years, Satterfield said.

“It is a great program for veterans,” Satterfield said.

And for the schools.

“We put more minorities in the classroom. We put more males in the classroom,” he said, “and our troops stay longer in the classroom than a lot of regular teachers.”