I’m a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and a former Air Force pilot (I flew C-141s, now-mothballed, but in its day amongst the most durable of cargo aircraft). Not a day goes by when I don’t feel immense pride in serving my country. My good friends who gave their lives, or who now live as disabled veterans, are likewise constantly on my mind. One thing’s for sure: I gained as much from serving alongside the finest women and men in the world in the US Air Force as my country gained from my service.
Nearly every time an education colleague learns of my prior military service I’m asked the same question: “How did you go from flying in the Air Force to teaching, to being a principal, to serving at the district office? That seems like a strange transition to make.”
I understand the question, but the answer is quite simple.
I feel called to serve, whether that service is to country, community, or children.
Education is the most important endeavor in the world. The impacts of increases in learning are profound. Improvements in knowledge and problem solving skills can empower children growing up in difficult situations to break the cycles of poverty. Improvements in literacies can empower nations to take reclaim their destinies.
So what’s the purpose of this post?
Simply this: I beg you to consider that while service to country is the most noble of commitments, service to community and to children is equally noble.
Teaching, and the education profession, is a commitment. The preparation, the discipline, and the sacrifices involved in service to country in the military have parallels in service to students. And the need is as great. Change the trajectories of children’s lives and we will change the world. It will be a safer world, a healthier world, and a happier world.
Honor teachers, and if you are a teacher, feel honored that your service is amongst the most valued and valuable in any society.