Teachers reminisce about military days; students await their turn

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By Tristan Bugos

Integrity. Courage. Virtue. These are all traits a soldier possesses in order to be a role model and serve their country. Many teachers at Lane are veterans from various branches of service while some students at Lane are very passionate about serving too. From serving, teachers were able to gain college money to get their teaching degrees.

Now teaching advanced mathematics at Lane, Mr. Elias served in the Air Force from September 1997 to September 2001.

Elias decided to join the Air Force because he wanted to go to college but didn’t have the money to pay for it. By joining the Air Force, Elias was eligible for the Illinois Veterans Grant and the G.I. Bill because he lived in the state of Illinois. Obtaining these grants and bills helped him financially with college. The G.I. bill paid for two years of his tuition and after four years, the Illinois Veterans grant gave him 120 hours of study.

On the road to obtaining a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering, Elias had a change of heart and decided to veer towards teaching. Looking back at the decision, Elias felt that the experience was a self-teaching journey that taught him a lot about himself and the world around him.

“Options are something everybody should have. I’d rather have something and not need it, than not have something and need it,” Elias said. “Something the military really taught me was integrity, like doing the right thing even when no one’s looking. I really try to incorporate those two factors in my classroom atmosphere.”

A longtime history teacher at Lane, Mr. DeRoss, served for the Air Force from 1975 to 1986. Deross also took advantage of the G.I. Bill during his time of service to pay for his college fund also.

“I wanted to get out of the house and didn’t have much money for college so I went to the recruiters and simply joined the Air Force to start my life.”

Over a year’s time span, DeRoss traveled to Korea and all around the United States including Alaska. When DeRoss entered the Air Force, it was around the time when the Vietnam War was ending.

“God bless the men that went into combat. They saw things no people should see or do. Most of the Air Force’s job back then was to make sure we were tough enough so it was completely unprofitable for the other side to pick a fight.” DeRoss said.

Also in the history department, teaching world studies, Mrs. Spence was part of the U.S. Army in Singapore from 1977 to 1981. Graduating from high school, Spence had no desire to attend college or have any ordinary job so she joined the army. Born and raised in California, Spence wanted nothing more than to part ways with her home state to see the world and get paid while doing so.

“To be honest, I think every man and woman should be required to serve at least two years for the military. For the first time in my life, I knew what responsibility and obligation, commitment and dedication meant,” Spence said.

In fact, Spence was part of the first group of women who were let into the army after the draft ended. Once the draft the ended, there was a major decrease in enrollment so they lowered the standards and allowed women in.

“I think one of my mottos after being in the army was ‘fit to fight’ because as a woman, it was definitely a task to keep up with the men physically,” Spence said.

While stationed in Germany, Spence met her future husband and made friends along the way. After the army, Spence volunteered to teach a women’s class about breastfeeding where she found her profession, teaching.

“After the volunteer teaching, I just really liked how I gave education to those women and I found out I loved teaching after that. And I love being around teenagers so that’s a plus too,” Spence said.

Working with underclassmen as a history teacher, Mr. Escudier served the U.S. Army Reserve for six years. Escudier needed money to pay for his college fund so he also took advantage of the bills and grants that helped him financially. Escudier was so eager to serve that he left for Basic Training the day after his high school graduation at the age of 17.

“Basic Training was very difficult physically and mentally. But I met a lot of very good people, a lot of guys like myself who were just looking at their future and decided to give the military a try,” Escudier said.

After gaining his degree and retiring from the army, Escudier went on to teaching because he wanted to “serve his community and have a noble profession.”

Many students at Lane have learned about service branches and their college money opportunities. Some are hoping to gain these opportunities in the future but there’s one student in particular that is already on track to being admitted into the army.

Enrolled in JROTC since freshman year, Harrison Jozefowicz, Div. 581, is planning on joining the army in August 2014. As a junior, Jozefowicz will graduate a year early thanks to the credit he received while attending Taft Academic Center, where he took Survey Literature as an 8th grader.

Jozefowicz hopes to serve in a special forces group known as the Army Rangers and then go on to work in a counterterrorism task force known as Delta Force.

“Everyone in my life fully supports my choice. Although, I am a bit nervous because I want to be the best soldier in whatever I do,” Jozefowicz said. “The quicker I get done with setting up for the rest of my life, the quicker I get to enjoy my life.”

After about 8-10 years in the army, Jozefowicz plans on pursuing a teaching degree to be a science or history teacher. He thinks going through the military experience will really prepare him for his teaching career.

One of Jozefowicz’s life motto’s from what he’s learned over his life is: “Once you find something you love or are extremely passionate about, strive to be the best at it. That something will make your life exciting, eventful, and worth living.”