Teacher Development Center Prepares Vets for Return to Classroom
Jan. 31, 2014
Air Force veteran Chad Crider will be certified to teach grades 7-12 in social studies.
For two UT Dallas student-veterans, returning to civilian life will mean returning to a passion fostered in the military: teaching.
Chad Crider started teacher certification last fall at the Teacher Development Center (TDC) after 21 years of service in the Air Force.
Crider, 41, earned his bachelor’s degree in 2002 during active duty. In addition to being an aircraft mechanic, he served as an aircraft maintenance instructor from 2000-04.
“I really enjoyed all the guys that came through, watching the light bulb come on,” Crider said. “Anybody who wants to teach gets a kick out of seeing the light bulb come on — seeing the students realize that they’re learning the material you’re giving them. They’re actually absorbing it.”
Crider lived in New Mexico and traveled through the Gulf Coast states and up the East Coast, as well as Germany, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. He retired as maintenance unit superintendent in 2012.
Now married with two children and living in Dallas, Crider said traveling to historic places and experiencing different geography influenced his decision to teach.
“I’m ready to get back into the classroom and actually interact with the kids and start working again,” said Crider, who will be certified to teach grades 7-12 in social studies. “I like that they are interested in your perspective on things.”
Gilberto "Gil" Landeros wants to teach high school.
Gilberto “Gil” Landeros will return to the classroom after a few years of working in the corporate world.
Landeros, 49, was a flight instructor in the Air Force for six years, teaching in Pensacola, Fla., and at the Air University-Squadron Officer College in Montgomery, Ala. He spent 20 years in the Air Force before retiring in 2008 as a major.
Landeros started at the TDC in summer 2012 and wants to teach high school history and geography. He said his travels to Southwest Asia sparked his love of history. He said he has always enjoyed reading maps — as proven by his bachelor’s degree in geography.
“I want to teach high school because I know that they’re at their first major decision in life on what they’re going to be,” said Landeros, who also has a master’s degree in aerospace science. “If I’m worthy of them coming to me, I’d like to make some type of positive impact.”
Landeros credits UT Dallas and the TDC for giving him guidance during his career change. He said he occasionally takes advantage of the Veteran Services Center and appreciates the inviting atmosphere at the TDC.
“It’s not like, ‘Hey you’re just another guy,’” Landeros said. “The TDC looks at it more like, ‘Wow. You’re another veteran. We could actually use what you have in the classroom because your skillset is not normally seen [in the TDC classroom].’”
By the Numbers
Student-Veterans in 2013
B.S. in healthcare studies: 5
B.A. in interdisciplinary studies: 9
B.S. in interdisciplinary studies: 4
M.A. in interdisciplinary studies: 2
Teacher Development Center: 4
Source: UT Dallas Veteran Services Center
One of the first friendly faces Landeros encountered at the TDC was master teacher Laurie Pollock.
Pollock said she has taught several veterans during her time at the TDC. Many have been led to teach because they were instructors in the military, like Landeros and Crider, she said.
“Veterans are amazing students because they’re very disciplined. They’re super-organized, and they’re driven,” Pollock said. “When it’s time for class participation, they already feel like they have a command in the classroom.”
According to 2013 numbers provided by the Veteran Services Center, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, which houses the TDC, has 18 undergraduates and two master’s students who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Four additional veterans are earning their teaching certificates at the TDC. Campus wide, there are more than 600 student-veterans.
Although they might not realize it, the student-veterans at the TDC have another veteran in their company.
Dr. George Fair, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, is also a veteran.
Dr. George Fair, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, completed his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1966 and was commissioned by the ROTC as a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation.
Fair taught math at the high school level for six months after college. He then served in the artillery branch of the Army for two years, stationed in Vietnam during the war from 1967-68.
After retiring as a first lieutenant, Fair continued teaching and then enrolled in graduate school, using his veteran’s benefits. He taught in public schools in Philadelphia for a year before deciding to pursue his PhD and begin teaching at the college level.
Fair said leadership is the most useful skill veterans bring to the classroom.
“In the military, you have clear lines of responsibility. No matter what level you are, there’s always someone you are responsible to and some group you are responsible for,” Fair said. “That made me very aware of leadership and how I was responsible for what we did as a combat unit.
“In teaching, it relates to having the responsibility to walk into class, have a presentation, be prepared and be ready to answer questions. It’s very much like teaching.”