From Soldier to Science
AWest science teacher reflections on importance of Veteran's Day.
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He stands in front of the class, his students inquiring the difference between biosynthesis and photosynthesis. raising their hands impatiently to be called upon. Although many of his students recognizes Jordan Whittington as an amiable teacher, they also lack the knowledge of his gallant past, one which included being a combat medic for the United State’s Army. Whittington, already teaching for almost 5 years, ended his time within the Army back in 2009, and has since been teaching in the science department at Arvada West. But not many students truly know the passionate journey that took Whittington from Army to education.
While it may be common for veterans to find jobs in education, for Whittington it is a natural extension of his passion: “I absolutely love working with high school kids. I have always had a passion with working with other people and sharing knowledge. Getting that ‘aha’ look on someone’s face when they figure out something…it’s like one of the coolest feelings in the world.”
Throughout the school day, Whittington teaches prospective lessons as he pushes students to a goal, diverting from the ordinary science presentations.
Although most only know Whittington as a teacher, they are ignorant to his past. “I was at a Taco Bell one night and I saw a recruiter. Two weeks later I was in the Army, and I was a combat medic,” Whittington starts. “It’s just one of those things that felt right, and it was something that I wanted to do.” Although it was easy to be recruited, he had to enlist through extensive schooling such as EMT training or trauma skills. “[It was] a little more stressful, not that it is not [usually stressful], but it did add a little spice into it,” he says when comparing being a combat medic to an EMT. “We did a lot of things such as train for IVs (Intravenous Therapy), control in medication, and how to keep someone from passing. [We also] learned how to do this for when we were in combat.”
Even with the training, there were still hardships for Whittington to overcome. As with many other soldiers, he had a difficult time while dealing with the anxiety about the procedures that could happen within the future. “Whittington explains that “the constant knowledge that someone is watching you, and that something is going to happen at any moment…it is just that constant unknown, that was one of the hardest things [for me].”
In an effort to handle the stress, he likens his fear to “… walking through a haunted house, and you know that there is someone behind a wall, but as soon as you get there, no one is there…but as soon as you let your guard down, someone else jumps out at you. It is the hyper-vigilance of always being on guard.”
Even with the problems he overcame from being in the Army, Whittington believes that people could be rewarded with vast opportunities for joining. “I think it is great experience for them to learn, and for them to have honor and pride in their country.” He even encourages his own children to follow in his footsteps for an appreciation of the prosperity they have within the United States.
“[I want] my kids to grow up in a world where they know that what they have is a blessing. My daughter is able to go to school here [America] without any issues, and my sons are allowed to play in the street without any issues; it is a great place to live. But they need to appreciate it, and I think that by serving their country they will gain that appreciation.”