Mike Pritts, a student in Colorado College’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, has been named a Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation. The retired command sergeant major, who began the program June 1, is the first Colorado College student to receive this highly prestigious award. Tillman Scholars are selected based on their academic and leadership potential, sense of vocation, and deep commitment to creating positive change through their work in the fields of medicine, law, business, education, and the arts.
Pritts, who retired from the Army in July 2015 with 30 years of service, spent almost 24 years as a Green Beret with the Army Special Forces. He’s been stationed with the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, worked as an instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, where he helped expand access to education programs to enlisted service members.
His last assignment was helping to manage the special operations training programs in Lebanon with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Pritts says he was drawn to CC’s MAT program because the high number of student contact hours involved would help him develop his own teaching style. “Education was a very large part of my service and I've been fortunate to teach soldiers from many of our partner nations around the world,” Pritts says. “Of all the accomplishments I have earned, I take the most pride in witnessing the achievements of those soldiers who I’ve coached along the way.”
Since retiring from the Army, Pritts has been working as a guest teacher in Fountain — Fort Carson School District 8 to gain experience in high school and middle school classrooms. He intends to become a high school social studies teacher and continue to work with children from military families.
“After serving for 30 years, I have a great sense of attachment to the military community,” Pritts says. “We sometimes forget how much our military families endure while supporting a service member. These families are uprooted every three to four years and many never have the opportunity to live in one location for a long time. Kids are constantly leaving friends and entering a new and unfamiliar environment. I really want to help these kids with this transition in my classroom and build a family-like community that welcomes its new members and stays in touch with those who have moved on.”
“Having led organizations from 12 to over 1,000 in both peacetime and combat, as a high school teacher, Mike’s leadership experience will be put to work in the classroom and with his fellow faculty members while keeping him engaged with his military family community,” notes the Tillman Scholars program.
The Pat Tillman Foundation was established following Tillman’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. The Tillman Scholars program, founded in 2008, supports active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses by investing in their higher education. The scholarship program covers direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books, and living expenses for scholars w pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degrees as a full-time student at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution.