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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Transition: Focus Your Need To Serve Elsewhere

10 May 2017

As a Citizen-Soldier for over 20-years, the thought of putting others first has always had appeal.  I originally joined the Army Reserves in college to help with the bills.  I wanted to be a soldier, and from an early age I had a duty to country as well.  There is a military tradition in my family, and I am sure most of you can relate to these conditions.  Most of us can also relate to the dramatic change in our attitudes toward military service in a post-911 world.  I left family, and jobs, to serve overseas like many others.  It was, as is commonly described by my brothers and sisters, the transition back that was hardest.

Coming back to a swirling landscape of career paths, additional education required to catch-up, and the need to be understood by people who had not served was stressful.  It was especially hard when I retired from military service and found myself on the outside of system looking in.  I missed the direct contact that came with being “in”.  I could no longer share the common bond of service that others who are still in have.  While we have shared experiences, my duty was at an end, and there was a hole left in it’s place.  I truly miss the camaraderie, training, and focus that came from service.

I found a new way to serve.  Troops to Teachers, a local college, and some fantastic mentors put me on a path to becoming an educator in the Philadelphia area.  I also turned my need to lead into a passion for coaching sports, clubs, and scouting.  The combination of these areas has had a profound effect on me, and my relationships.  It fills the gap left from my time of service.  I believe it is the best use of my skills and resources, and I encourage any member of the armed forces to try it.  I have taught STEM Engineering and Computer Science in the Philadelphia area since 2009..  I am currently teaching Middle School technology classes to help prepare students to use the digital tools that will serve them far into High School and beyond.  The planning and implementing of the curriculum, and the effective communication and sharing of methods and ideas with colleagues is very similar to working in a company, platoon, and squad size element.

Coaching sports allows me to help develop physical skills, agility, and leadership in kids.  Scouting allows me to stay in touch with the outdoor skills like camping, survival, first-aid, and orienteering.  The combination of all three allows me to keep sharp, and pass on, knowledge that I feared would slowly sink away into the abyss of time.  I also get to spend time with family at most of the events.  Most of all, it is the mentor relationship that I hope to have, in various degrees, with people in my community that fills the void where service once filled.  Being mentored by others (head coaches, scout leaders, school administrators), and mentoring others has added a dimension to my life that I thought I could not get back when I left the service.

Blogging here is also helpful.  I want to be available to those who have served our country, educators who need help adding or implementing technology in their programs, or anyone who is trying to find their way out of darkness.  I will post more topic, or skill specific, posts in the future here.  Requests are always welcome.  I have taken a path with my life, and I would be happy to share the route map, pitfalls, or keys-to-success so far with any of you.

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