Business & Economy

Serving our country then our schools

As wounded and disabled veterans begin to figure out their lives after the military, many look for ideas or signs to point them in the right direction. At the University of West Florida, the Hometown Heroes Teach program helps many enthusiastic veterans find their way right to the head of the classroom.

“They’re excited about going into the classroom,” said Angelia Byers, project manager of Hometown Heroes Teach. “They always want to forge ahead no matter what they’ve had to deal with or what obstacles they’ve had to overcome.”

In 2006, Bill Maloy, former superintendent of Escambia County schools, as well as Navy and Marine Corps veteran and Silver Star recipient, had a drive to help veterans and concern about local teacher shortages. With that initiative, Maloy helped develop Hometown Heroes Teach, a program designed to give disabled veterans with bachelor’s degrees and an interest in teaching in the K-12 classroom an opportunity to work towards their teacher certification. The program was created after receiving the support and funding from several groups which include Workforce Escarosa, Inc., Workforce Development Board of Okaloosa and Walton Counties and Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa School Districts.

“The empirical evidence is there already in that 50 percent of the recent college graduates that go into the classroom are gone in five years,” said Paul Frederick, project director of Hometown Heroes Teach. “Of the military people that go into the classroom, 80 percent will still be there in five years.”

Hometown Heroes Teach, which is administered by UWF, gives veterans several opportunities to complete the requirements for teacher certification. Whether it’s through e-learning, traditional learning or the nine-month online certification program, TeacherReady, the goal of the program is to assist, counsel, screen and mentor eligible veterans through the certification process.

“What we’re also trying to do is get everyone to substitute teach and volunteer while they’re going through the program,” said Byers. “That way the principals and teachers can see their faces, and they can also get the experience of being in the classroom, which will be very valuable when they go to apply for teaching positions.”

Currently, Hometown Heroes Teach has 13 active participants and eight who are about to start the program. The program is not limited only to wounded or disabled veterans, but under certain circumstances, also their spouses and/or children have the opportunity to take advantage of the program.

Hometown Heroes Teach will offer two informational meetings to give an overview of the program. Meetings will be held Jan. 23 in Panama City at the Workforce Center located at 625 Hwy. 231 and Jan. 29 in Marianna at the UWF Chipola campus located at 3094 Indian Circle. The meetings will begin at 3 p.m. each day.

For more information, contact Byers at (850) 474-2798 or e-mail Learn more about Hometown Heroes Teach at

By Megan Clark, University Marketing Communications