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NLU Student, Alum Tell WBEZ Military Led Them To Teaching

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For Andrew Cline, joining the military to “do something bigger than yourself” is the same reason he chose to go into teaching. He’s an NLU student veteran.

For Anthony Clark, an NLU graduate who’s teaching special education at Oak Park and River Forest High School, the responsibility and leadership he learned in the military made for a “natural transition” into teaching.

Both men appeared on WBEZ-FM Radio’s “Morning Shift” program with host Tony Sarabia on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, to talk about veterans going into the education field.

Both benefitted from NLU’s extensive Veteran’s Program, which provides academic, health, financial and mental health resources and career support. They also were supported by  organizations which help veterans trade combat for classrooms: Clark got support from Troops to Teachers, a federally-funded program, and Cline has a teaching residency with the non-profit Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

Clark said he felt directionless after high school, and joining the military reinforced the values his parents had instilled in him.

“It taught me responsibility, leadership and allowed me to find myself as a man,” he said. “After that, being exposed to the Troops to Teachers program was a natural transition, providing that extra support…they continue to uplift you until you can become personally successful.”

His days as a standup comic, which he did part-time after a military career spent in Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey, may also help the NLU alum lead a classroom.

“You’re actually performing when you’re a teacher as well,” he said, adding students will fall asleep if you bore them.

Cline, who’s pursuing an education degree at NLU, says the reason he wanted to go into teaching goes back to the core values he learned as an infantryman and while deployed to Iraq in 2006-07.

“You’re doing things for the guy next to you,” he said. “It’s all about service…I feel education is the same way. I get to impact 150 students a day. That gives them so much more of an opportunity going forward than if I did something else with  my life.”

Asked if he felt nervous about whether he had teaching chops, Cline observed that AUSL has supported him through his first two months in the classroom.

“I really feel confident deep down, because I know I’ve gone through deployment, basic training, I’ve made it through those physical and mental challenges, it gives me confidence to do this,” he said.

Hear the complete interview here.