Monday, July 28, 2014

The Recruiter

A comment in Sarge’s Saturday post from Bill Brandt got this post story going.  “…the premise was that any act of kindness you do to others - no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have profound life-changing effects.

So, There I was….* in the waning years of the presidency of the second person to be impeached and it was obvious to me that I was never going to be Chief of Staff of the Air Force in this lifetime and so retired.  Moved to the Hill Country of Texas and had been hired as a Teacher at the local High School, teaching computer classes.  I’d been doing it for a couple of years and was enjoying it.  The kids were generally well-behaved and polite.  I don’t think I was called “Sir” this often at any time in my military career. 
In any case, my first period class was webmastering and the bell rang at 0800. (8AM for my students, but I keep better track of time when it’s military time, why is that?) Anyhow, this class was one of my favorites, 20 kids, 18 of whom were female, very pretty, smart and funny. The two guys in the class were in Hog Heaven. 

The class was not a mandatory class, although it became one a few years later, so I didn’t have a state mandated curriculum.  I taught it the way I thought would be more useful to the student in later years.  The first grade period, I started them out on MS Office. For many of the kids, this was their first exposure to computers and actually using them to do research, write papers etc, so this was a valuable time. (This was a while ago, yes.) I showed them Excel and the test was building a spreadsheet that helped them decide which was better for them, taking the cash back or the lower interest rate when buying their car.  An eye or two opened on that one.  During the second six weeks we started building web sites.  The Microsoft answer at the time was Front Page and the other teacher started his kids out with that on Day One.  I started the second six weeks by having them open two programs, Internet Explorer and Notepad.  We built web pages strictly using HTML, by the time Christmas rolled around, they were building some pretty good websites and had a decent working knowledge of HTML, programming and troubleshooting.

The first class after Christmas Break, I started off the class by saying, “you guys are going to hate me, but open up Front Page”.  I then showed them how to build a page from the GUI.  A lot of grumbling was going on as I turned them loose on the next website project.  The class hasn’t been working it for more than 15 minutes when one of them puts up her hand and says “Mr Juvat, this isn’t doing what I want it to do.”  Just as the Evil Teacher wanted.  I then showed them the HTML tab in Front Page.  She clicks it and there’s her code.  I ask her to take a look at it and see if she notices anything.  She does and points out a tag that isn’t formatted correctly.  Once she was a student, NOW she is a Master! 

So, it’s almost spring break and I’ve got a student who has a bad habit.  One of my biggest peeves is being late.  I was a military brat and my father was known to drive off and leave you if you were going to make the family late for church.  No, that did not get you out of going to church, you had to walk to a later service.  That stood me in good stead when I officially joined the AF (I think Military brats tend to think of themselves as unofficial members of the Service, wish it counted towards retirement).  Acceptable Time on Target parameters for fighter pilots were plus or minus 2 seconds.  So timeliness is a BIG deal with me. 

This student, we’ll call her Megan, a senior and about to graduate, had a habit of being late.  Now, I don’t mean she was occasionally late, or even frequently late.  I mean she was late every single day.  Sometimes a matter of 30 seconds, sometimes 15 minutes, but every single day! She was never spiteful about it, always was polite and said she’d try harder…But. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!

Well, it’s a Monday and there’d been Thunderstorms over the weekend and our network had gone out and, and, and.  Frustration is starting to mount as I’m running around trying to get kids into their computers and projects when in bops Megan with a cheery “Morning Mr. Juvat!” That was the straw for this particular morning.

“Young Lady, Do you know what you need?”

Eyes got big and wide.  “Noooo”

“You need to join the Marines!”

Tears starting to form.  “Why?”

“You need to learn some self-discipline!”

Sniffle, Sniffle. Sits down at her computer.

I’m thinking to myself, “Well Done!  Juvat, You’re going to be fired, sued, arrested and probably shot!”

I look over at Megan and she’s beboping along on her computer, talking with her friend next to her and having a great time.  I forget about the incident.

June comes, the Seniors graduate and begin the next step in their life’s journey.  The summer passes, I've got a new crop of kids and we’re in the notepad hating phase when I hear a knock on the door.  I open it and Megan’s standing there.  She's ramrod straight in the Khaki Blouse and Blue trousers of a United States Marine! 

I invite her in and ask her why she stopped by.  I have no recollection of the incident.  She says “I just wanted to thank you.” Puzzled, I ask  “For what?”  She says “For talking me into joining the Marines.”  My jaw drops.  

We chat for a bit about what she was going to do in the Marines (intel) and as she stands up to leave, I say, “Megan, just one more question.  Have you been late since you joined the Corps?”


She said, “Well, I was a little slow getting off the bus at Boot Camp, but they made it very apparent that wasn't going to be acceptable!”  I laughed.

*What'the difference between a fairy tale and a war story?  A fairy tale begins "Once upon a time..." ,a war story begins "So, There I was...".

14 comments:

  1. Great story Juvat.

    It's great when you can have a positive influence on someone's life.

    You did a good thing. We need more folks like you in education!

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  2. When I got out and went back to college, I had an accounting teacher who'd been a full bird in the Army and had his PhD.
    He was a walking ad for joining any other branch.

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    1. Uh, belay that... he could hardly walk because of the stick up his @$$.

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    2. Yeah, unfortunately the other computer teacher was retired AF also. When he finally retired from teaching, not many were sorry to see him go.

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  3. Great story! You never know....

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    1. Thanks, and I appreciated that she felt strongly enough to come back and tell me. Otherwise, I would never have known.

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  4. How do I get into your class? It for the learning not the heaven. The Mrs wouldn't put up with that.

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    1. I appreciate the compliment. My wife has a Bridal shop and as a token of my appreciation for this particular class, before Prom, I had her come in and give a presentation on makeup and color analysis. The class enjoyed it, (at least, the female part, myself and the two other guys excused ourselves from the room, nothing good was going to happen at that point). The wife did comment that she was going to be keeping a close eye on me for the rest of the school year though.

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  5. Love this story. I'm sure many of us have influenced someone for the better, but to have that someone in front of you wearing the uniform of our Armed Forces must make you very proud.

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    1. Teachers, in small towns in Texas, don't get paid a lot, but the rewards can be well worth it.

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  6. The Marines... and the other services... can cure about 95% of what's wrong with today's youth. It's a pity more young people don't exercise the option.

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  7. There's an NJROTC unit at the local HS and it's very well populated. The CAPT was a Hawkeye driver, but other than that, he's a pretty good guy. He and his Master Chief, although both retired, keep a fairly short line on their kids. But, you're right about curing 95%...Perhaps that's why some folks seem to be intent on destroying our Military.

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  8. Sportsfans/

    Participating in HS football will have the same effect on personal discipline, TRUST me, (xtra laps--many laps, lol.) Unfortunately this is not an option for the fair sex. :)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)