After serving in the U.S. Army for 22 years, Derek Koon EDU' 20 is now on the path to becoming a certified educator as a resident in the Temple Teacher Residency (TTR) program at the College of Education. Koon is part of the Troops to Teachers program, which helps veterans transition into teaching careers. Temple University and Troops to Teachers have a partnership in order to recruit more veterans into teaching.
Prior to attending the College of Education, Koon had an extensive military career, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1982 and serving until 2004. During his service, he was a Telecommunications Switching Center Supervisor and was deployed in Germany, Washington, D.C., South Korea and in the Middle East. Following his retirement from the Army, Koon decided that he wanted to be an educator.
Koon always had an interest in working with children and even worked with children throughout his military career. His upbringing in a single-parent, low income, high-rise housing project in Philadelphia inspired him to work in the Philadelphia School District. It was important for Koon to meet the needs of communities with high levels of poverty. Prior to becoming a TTR resident, Koon taught science at a Philadelphia middle school, cultivating positive relationships in the classroom. Following this experience, Koon decided to advance his career and increase his impact as an educator by becoming a resident in the TTR program.
Now, a resident in TTR, Koon has reaffirmed his passion for mentorship and education, saying, "I feel a connection with young people and I am committed to helping them learn and grow.''
As a TTR resident, Koon will complete apprenticeships throughout the year. From September through June, he will be co-teaching with a mentor teacher. Thanks to support from College of Education faculty, administrative staff and Koon's wife, Koon is confident in having a bright future as an educator.
Commenting on his time as an educator and his experience in TTR, Koon excitedly notes, "I love to work with children and inspire learning. I'm grateful for the opportunity that Temple Teacher Residency has given me because, through teaching, I get to live my passion."
For veterans interested in pursuing a career in education, Koon insists that veterans are perfect for the job.
We need more veteran teachers who possess discipline and motivation. My advice to veterans pursuing teaching is to take advantage of all the benefits that the Department of Veterans Affairs has to offer. There are several tuition assistance programs offered to veterans which can ease some financial burden.