Veterans turned teachers: a new UNF program working to aid in the Florida teacher shortage

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The University of North Florida (UNF) is rolling out a new ‘Veteran to Teachers’ program. It was inspired by Governor Ron DeSantis’s initiative to hire more veterans to fill the teacher shortage gap.

“They have life experience that really cannot be matched,” John Miller said. He teaches AP History at Nease High School in St. Johns County.

UNF launched a graduate program specifically for veterans, on Friday.

“When we have 1.7 million veterans in the state of Florida, we have the opportunity to work with them, and reach out, and make them great teachers,” Christian Winterbottom said. He is the Interim Chair of the Department of Teacher Learning and Curriculum at UNF. “What we wanted to do is figure out how we could help veterans who already have their bachelor’s degrees who may not necessarily be teaching.”

There are two tracks you can take for the graduate program. Both are between 15 to 21 credits. It typically takes a year to complete the certification.

Action News Jax told you in August when Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law allowing military veterans to get a teaching certificate—valid for five years—before finishing their bachelor’s degree. Winterbottom said UNF is working to add that program to its curriculum as well.

Here are the requirements for the undergraduate program initiated by Governor DeSantis, according to the Florida Department of Education.

Applicants must meet the following standards: (Military Veterans Certification Pathway (fldoe.org))

  • Minimum of 48 months of military service with an honorable/medical discharge;
  • Minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5-grade point average;
  • Passing score on a Florida subject area examination;
  • Employment in a Florida school district, including charter schools; and
  • Cleared background screening.

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