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Any DoD Music Teachers out there?

I am a junior Music Education (Choral) student and am interested in teaching for the Department of Defense. Anyone on here in that position/know of anyone who is? I would like to put some questions out there just to get an idea of what it's like. Obviously, reading about it on the DoD's website doesn't provide me any testimony.
 
Here are some of my questions:
 
1.) Where do you teach?
2.) Overall, do you like the program?
3.) How long have you taught for the DoD?
4.) What grade levels do you teach?
5.) Do you feel supported by the program to continue?
6.) How often have you been transferred?
7.) What are your plans after the DoD, if any?
8.) What has been the biggest reward teaching for the DoD?
9.) What has been your biggest challenge?
10.) Would you recommend the program to someone coming right out of college?
 
Any information is very helpful! I'm really trying to cover my bases before I consider a contract.
 
Thanks!
Replies (5): Threaded | Chronological
on April 12, 2013 1:05am
Kameron - Greetings from Germany! Let me answer your questions as best I can:
 
1.) Where do you teach? 
Netzaberg Middle School in Bavaria, Germany
2.) Overall, do you like the program?
Very much so!  
3.) How long have you taught for the DoD?
This is my ninth year.
4.) What grade levels do you teach?
I currently teach 6-8 choir
5.) Do you feel supported by the program to continue?
I'm not quite sure what you mean. The Department of Defense Education Avtivity (DoDEA) is like a state, and within  the state their are different districts (Mediterranean, Korea, Japan, Ises, Bavaria, etc) and each is run differently to an extent. It's like asking if Washington supports their teachers - I worked in Sumner SD before DoDEA and found them incredibly supportive of music programs thanks to our department coordinator (the lively Karen Fulmer :), but others in their districts did not. I have grown my program from 1 class to 5 over the past few years, have done lots of good pr for the school. so I have been supported by my admin.
6.) How often have you been transferred?
I started at Vilseck MHS (7-12), then moved to the temporary ms while the new one was being built, and am now at the new ms. Three transfers, but all in the same location.
7.) What are your plans after the DoD, if any?
we thought we were only coming for 2 years but the amazing benefits- housing and cost of living on top of salary - we have no plans on returning. I still keep my WA state certificate and national board cert valid though, just in case.
8.) What has been the biggest reward teaching for the DoD?
working with the military families - my father was marines and army and I "get" this lifestyle and the issues they are going through.
9.) What has been your biggest challenge?
working with military families - it is incredibly transient population, with varying degrees of the value of education, PTSD issues that effect the families, long deployments, I often feel like the standards I am teaching are second to the emotional and day to day life issues I help kids with just by being a stable person in their lives.
10.) Would you recommend the program to someone coming right out of college?
It's nothing like teaching in the states. Some people do their student teaching here - that would be a great way to see what DoDEA life is like here. If you find yourself in Germany, feel free to come on by and see what we're up to!
 
 
on April 12, 2013 1:12am
Another few thoughts - it can be quite difficult to get "into" DoDEA - last I heard from HQ, there were over 20,000 applicants for less than 500 jobs hired from the states. Most of our teachers are multi-subject - I was hired for band/social studies then grew my program to allow me to be full time choir. I am not aware of any other full time choir teachers in all if Europe. Most everyone else teaches band/choir, or choir/guitar, etc.
 
We are also in a huge transition time - troop reductions overseas means school closures, which means less positions. That sequestration in congress means furloughs which as of today we are not exempt from.  There are great things about being here, but also headaches.
on April 15, 2013 7:23pm
Alina,
 
Thank you so much for replying! Your testimony certainly provides some context for me! I am continuing my research, and have a couple observations lined up with teachers at Fort Lewis. With a military family I can understand what you mean about standards of teaching being second to the emotional issues, which is part of the reason I would like to contribute my skills to teach on a base. 
 
With all of this, I am also keeping in mind the ratio of acceptance. I just have one final question for you:
 
Is there anything you wish you would have known about teaching on a base or teaching for the DoD prior to being offered a job?
 
Again, thank you so much for your time and testimony! :-)
on April 17, 2013 5:22pm
Kameron - glad to be of help! The Fort Lewis schools are under Clover Park school district, I believe, not DoDEA, but it will still be an interesting look at teaching at a military base stateside. There are some schools stateside that are still run by DoDEA - mainly in the south where sergated schools and quality of education have historically been, and in some places still continue to be, an issue.
 
I think the main thing I would have wanted to know coming in to DoDEA was that the quality and options for professional development available here is not nearly the same as in the states. I come back in the summer and attend the ACDA summer institute in Tacoma, for example, to get subject specific PD.  We do have a European NAfME, of which I am the current president, and we do put on yearly conferences, but on a MUCH smaller scale. I found the best thing I did was complete my masters and National Board certification in my first four years of teaching, before coming over to DoDEA, as I would have had little to no chance of getting them done once here.
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