Updated Wed, Apr 11, 2012 5:52 pm
Wellston native Kevin Compston served as an army officer and chaplain for 32 years, and because of a federal program, the retired vet is now serving special education students at Trimble Middle School.
The U.S. Department of Education's Troops to Teachers program helps U.S. Veterans like Compston transition into teaching careers back home. It helps veterans not only train for a teaching job, but also to find one.
"We knew probably about a week into the process after he had taken over the classroom that he was probably the person for the job," said Debbie Koons, Trimble Middle School Principal.
The program strives to place former troops in low-income areas to help with teacher shortages and give the veterans a new career after deployment.
The program has placed more than 400 veterans in Ohio schools, but thousands have entered the classroom nationwide.
Compston took over mid-year for Trimble's special education teacher and the school recently decided to hire him full-time.
"Kids know when somebody's truely interested in them, not only academically, but them personally, and they know when someone really wants the best for them and Mr. Compston really does," said Koons.
Compston has used his military knowledge and experience to teach the kids in his middle school classroom.
This winter he collected more than $1,600 in donations from military and fraternal organizations, which was enough to take his students on a field trip to Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton.
"Anything that I've accomplished here is not because of what I've done. I think it's because of the resources and the people that have surrounded me here and helped me through the way," said Compston. "I'm just a tool to lead these children and show them that they are our future."
The children in the class learn math, vocabulary and life skills, and the students say the classroom has improved since Compston's arrival.
"I learned that you can do anything and that you can get something accomplished, and you can actually meet your goal," said Steven Nichols, an eighth grade student at Trimble Middle School.