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TN History for Kids

"Tennessee's Education Force" -- A Veterans Day Program from THFK

John Reddick (on the right, shown in Vietnam)

To celebrate Veterans Day, Tennessee History for Kids has released a book that profiles more than 100 veterans who work in public schools in the Volunteer State. These veterans hail from one end of the state to the other and work as everything from custodian to principal. They all have fascinating stories to tell, and we encourage teachers to use it to observe Veterans Day.

We did not print copies of this book, but you can download a copy here.

We have also interviewed FIVE of these veterans in series of online shows (hosted by History Bill) which teachers can show their students at their convenience. Here they are:

Click here to meet John Reddick, the SRO for Crockett County High School. Mr. Reddick was drafted and spent about a year in Vietnam, in combat situations. In the interview, he talks about what he did in Vietnam,  how he was treated when he got back home, and why he chose to remain in the National Guard for 40 years

Todd Pait


Click here to meet Todd Pait, a high school english and civics teacher in Hawkins County who used to in the U.S. Army. Hint: He tells a story at the 17:35 mark that you will NOT BELIEVE!!!.


Terrence Haynes is the man on the right

Click here to meet Terrence Haynes, a sixth grade social studies teacher in Shelby County who joined the U.S. Army and played a fascinating role in the Desert Storm conflict of 1991.

Jessica Donnerstag




Click here to meet Jessica Donnerstag, a language pathologist for Dickson County Schools who was in the Tennessee Air National Guard.


Bill DePietro


Click here to meet Bill DePietro, a third grade teacher in Williamson County who used to be in the Marines.



"I want every student who has a veteran for a teacher to see a photo of that teacher when he or she was in uniform," says Bill Carey, executive director of TN History for Kids. "If their principal did a tour in Afghanistan, I want them to know what that person did. If their bus driver was a sailor on a Navy ship, I want them to know that.

"If their custodian did a tour in Vietnam, then I want the students to brag about him to their parents."

Roberto Marrerro-Corletto used to be
a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army and
today teaches at Brentwood High School.

Wednesday, November 11, is a school day for some systems and a holiday for others.

"This program is intended to help students learn how to talk to veterans," says Carey, who flew in the Navy from 1987 until 1992. "Asking a veteran what he or she did in the service is more appropriate than saying 'thank you for your service' and walking away, which has become the standard behavior."

Here are photos of some of the other veterans that you will find in the book, entitled Tennessee's Education Force:




(On the right), Gregory Stephens, now an Army JROTC instructor at Jefferson County High School, with some children in Afghanistan.



(On the left), Bruce Carlisle, now the ISS instructor at E.W. Grove High School in Henry County, when he was a sailor in the U.S. Navy.



(On the right), Earl McClung re-enlists when was a Seabee in the U.S. Navy, . Today McClung teaches automobile technology at Warren County High School.




(On the left), Greg West used to cook for 110 sailors on board a U.S. Navy submarine. Today he runs the culinary arts program at Gallatin High School.




(On the right), Jennifer Corder spent three years in the U.S. Army, most of them at NATO Headquarters in Belgium. Today she teaches pre-K at West Elementary School in Hamblen County.




(On the left), Patrick Boyd, principal of Woodland Middle School in Williamson County, used to be a tank platoon leader in the U.S. Army.






Connie Howard (second from the right) now teaches math at Hixon Middle School in Hamilton County.



Paul Wright (on the left) was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968 and spent several years with an armored division in Germany. Today he drives a school bus in the Nolensville section of Williamson County.


Sam Vega (on the right) was in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2003 until 2007, mainly as a public affairs person attached to an infantry unit. Today he is a computer technician for the Franklin Special School District in Williamson County.




Jared Ownby (on the left) used to get to play with a bomb-diffusing robot in the desert when he was in the U.S. Air Force. Today he teaches 8th grade at Pigeon Forge Junior High School in Sevier County.




Beth Kempton (on the right) was a medic in the U.S. Army in the late 1960s. Today she is the school nurse supervisor for Weakley County Schools.


Jason Richardson (on the left) was a scout in the U.S. Army during the Desert Shield and Desert Storm conflicts of 1990-91. Today he is an SRO for Warren County Schools.




Jason Arant (on the right) used to handle  bombs and missiles in the U.S. Air Force. Today he is the SRO at Westview High School in Weakley County.


Julius Hill was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1970 and spent two years working as a medical record specialist. Today he works at H.G. Hill Middle School in Nashville.




Gwen Coleman (on the right) was a military working dog handler in the U.S. Air Force from 1977 until 1981. Today she is a substitute school nurse and teacher in Weakley County.


Some of the veterans working in public schools in Tennessee we are rounding up:

J.W. Kizer (top right) was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969 and is now the custodian at Caywood Elementary School in Henderson County.

Jason Pierschbacher used to fly as a crewman in the U.S. Army on the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. Now he is the principal of Pleasant View Elementary School in Cheatham County.

Phil Devine spent 27 years as a Seabee in the U.S. Navy and is now assistant maintenance director for Williamson County Schools. Here he is with his former partner Kooter.

Becki Louden (on the right) was the executive assistant to the commander of a U.S. Army base in Iraq. Today she teaches culinary arts at Coffee County Central High School.

William Walker was a combat medic in the Tennessee Army National Guard for 32 years. Here, in this photo, he hands out humanitarian supplies in Iraq. Today Walker is the principal at Rush Strong Elementary School in Jefferson County.

An enlisted Marine named John Cornelius drives an armored tank during the invasion of Grenada in 1983. Today, Cornelius is the security officer on the campus of Johnson County Middle/High School in Mountain City.

Jennifer Paris (back row, middle) was an air evacuation medic during the first Gulf War. Today she teaches reading intervention at Rockvale Elementary School in Rutherford County.

That's Sergeant Philip Thomas riding on the top of an armed vehicle in Afghanistan. Today he teaches PE at Clovercroft Elementary School in Williamson County.

Thomas Gowan (far left) spent about 20 years as in the U.S. Army as a helicopter mechanic, crew chief, flight engineer and instructor. Today he drives a school bus in Williamson County.

Petty Officer Robert Russell pulls out of a port of call in the Pacific, back in the day. Today he is a social studies teacher and coach at Glencliff High School in Nashville.

Carl Hirshel, a former force support officer in the U.S. Air Force, now teaches Air Force Junior ROTC at Coffee County Central High School.

David Massengill shows some of his equipment off to some children in Iraq. Today Massengill is a fourth grade teacher at Amherst Elementary School in Knox County.