The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a surge in retirements across various industries in Texas, including public education. Districts around the state are struggling to reach adequate staffing levels before the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
To help remedy its particular shortage, Garland Independent School District is partnering with Soldiers to Sidelines, a nonprofit that helps military veterans and gold star families with the post-service transition to civilian life. Unlike other veterans programs, Soldiers to Sidelines trains its veterans in coaching skills and helps them find coaching opportunities in their communities.
Brent Ringo, Garland ISD’s chief financial officer, was hoping to find a new hire from Soldiers to Sidelines at the football coaching workshop the group held in Garland last week. Garland ISD is the first school district in North Texas to partner with the nonprofit.
Glenn Pilarowski served as a combat medic and is now a special education teacher and an offensive line coach in Marshall. He credited Soldiers to Sidelines for his leadership skills, telling CBS News the organization taught him how to be “an even better leader than the Army did.”
Pilarowski said he cherishes the opportunity to work with youth and foster community.
Will Huff, a retired Army colonel and Soldiers to Sidelines’ current director of partnerships, told CBS News that due to service members’ experience, they possess inherent skills that make them good coaches and mentors.
Pilarowski added that the organization’s emphasis on camaraderie, structure, and self-control is a perfect fit for people with military backgrounds.
Huff stated that he found great meaning in aiding veterans in their transition to civilian life. In fact, Soldiers to Sidelines has at times been the difference between death and life.
He told CBS News about how after he first became involved with the organization, another participant in the program told him, “If not for the team waiting for me that afternoon, I would have stuck a pistol in my mouth.”
Garland ISD can boast a relatively high graduation rate for Texas, with a four-year longitudinal study on the class of 2020 indicating that 94.5% of district students graduated high school on time.
Garland ISD beat the statewide rate for the class of 2020, which sat at 90.3%, and dwarfed Dallas ISD’s extremely low 82.8% graduation for 2020.
The Dallas Express reached out to several DISD Trustees regarding DISD’s poor showing and received no response.