Just read a piece in Parade last Sunday ...
A West Point graduate, who served in Iraq and A'stan with an airborne unit, eventually ended up at a desk at the Pentagon. What he noticed was that more young people were being shot and killed in Chicago than we were losing in Iraq & A'stan.
He retired from the military to pursue being a teacher. He had trouble finding a job without a teaching certificate. However, a charter school organization in Chicago, does hire some teachers who don't have "credentials" for teaching. They hired him.
He's been teaching English for two years in inner-city Chicago (where HS drop-out rates are terrifically high). His students may often have to travel for an hour on public transportation to get to this charter HS, which is sponsored by the Chicago Bulls. Of course, his students do have an edge, as they have parents who want their kids to have a better education than they can get in the regular Chicago schools. One of his students in that very first year, with this teacher's help, has now been accepted at West Point. The student's parents were, of course, important to this. His natural father had been a big drug dealer, who was killed. His mother and stepfather wanted the best for their son, and supported the teacher's efforts to give this young man a "free" college education and a chance for opportunity.
When the teacher first started at the school, this student, then a Junior, who was very physically fit, thought he would "show up" the teacher. He challenged him to a push-up contest. The student did 40. The teacher did 60 The teacher noted that this kid had a inner moral compass. He could have used some other challenge, but chose one that was non-violent and based on some sort of "merit".
When one of this teacher's female students was thinking of dropping out, his wise words to her were (paraphrasing), "I've failed so many times that I've lost count. You cannot let failure define you. That is not who you are."
The young man who is going to West Point is thinking that when his military service is over, he would like to follow in his mentor's footsteps of teaching.
Makes me think how much good our vets could do as teachers on a large scale. Makes me also think of the great potential that is being wasted when there are kids like this who need the mentorship of teachers like this.