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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Hiring the best teachers for our K-12 classrooms is a top priority. Alabama’s efforts are now yielding even greater returns.

The innovative Department of Defense program, Troops to Teachers, is helping the state successfully recruit top military personnel for the classroom.

The Alabama Department of Education announced they have successfully placed its first military veteran from this program, into a K-12 classroom for the upcoming school year.

Lieutenant Colonel James Cote has accepted a Health Science teacher position at Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School in Montgomery. While in the U.S. Air Force, he led a team of 19 instructors and directed the Aero-Medical Evacuation Nursing Curriculum Development at the U.S. Joint Readiness Training Center.

He successfully trained 350 Air Force flight nurses and medics, served 11 years in the Air Force Nurses Corps, and was also a college instructor at Air University.

Education officials say this top professional exemplifies the level of teaching talent that Troops to Teachers is bringing to Alabama’s K-12 classrooms.

Local communities throughout our nation are working hard to recruit the next generation of highly skilled educators. Since 1993, approximately 22,000 U.S. military veterans have successfully entered the education field through this program. Veterans often have strong leadership skills and experiences, which work well in K-12 and college classrooms.

A Positive Classroom Impact – Strong Community and Education Support

According to current research, between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that nearly 1.9 million K-12 teacher job openings will be available nationwide. School administrators often report veterans have a lasting and positive impact on student achievement and academic success.

In 2018, the Alabama State Department of Education, under the leadership of State Superintendent Eric Mackey, awarded Stillman College a grant to execute the Troops to Teachers program in Alabama. For the past nine months, United States Air Force Senior Airman Derwin Dubose has successfully led this federal program in Alabama.

“A high level of integrity, professionalism, and intellect are commonplace in the ranks of our military personnel and veterans,” Mackey said. “This program enriches the lives of veterans who want to share their expertise and life experiences with students; as well as the students who receive the benefit of having a real life leader managing their classroom.”

Alabama’s Troops to Teachers program has partnered with several community-based organizations and gained a great level of support from local educators, our state business community, and postsecondary institutions.

Students and faculty members at Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School are now excitedly waiting to meet their new Health Science Education teacher, Lieutenant Colonel Cote – a highly qualified educator and a true American hero!

To learn more about this program, contact our state’s Executive Director of Military and Veterans Programs at Stillman College Derwin Dubose, at 205-498-1911 or