BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – The success of the JROTC program at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte rests on the shoulders of its leader, retired 82nd Airborne Ranger Jeff Clendenin.
“It’s kind of a change from being a warrior to being a teacher,” said Col. Joseph Calisto, a colleague at the school. “He has quite a heritage. He is genuine and he has the ability to innovate and create a learning environment like no other.
Clendenin, who retired as a first sergeant after 23 years in the U.S. military, helps his students find scholarship opportunities, mentors them, provides enlistment advice, and keeps abreast of certifications such as “tree climbing course instructor” just to keep things interesting for the kids.
His daughter, Jennifer Hatley, says he defines the word “hero” because “he is always ready to give you the shirt off his back and he continually pushes and strives for excellence in all areas. of his life”.
“Our program would be pale in comparison without it,” Calisto added. “He made the difference between success and mediocrity. He is truly a role model for all of us.
Clendenin’s dedication to excellence for his JROTC students led to his selection as one of the 10 North Carolina Education Lottery School Heroes program winners. He said he didn’t just want to see his students graduate, he wanted to see them reach their full potential.
The Education Lottery created the NC School Heroes program to showcase the positive impacts teachers, principals and other school workers have every day in public schools. Parents, teachers and community members submitted more than 4,900 applications from people making a difference in their schools.
The School Hero and his school receive a prize of $ 10,000.
Clendenin said he plans to take a trip to Hawaii to visit a former student. Jonathan Pascal, principal of the school, said the school plans to use the money to improve the JROTC program.
“Teachers and school staff have all stepped up for our children in these unprecedented times,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the NC Education Lottery. “The 10 school heroes selected this year provide a glimpse into the world of these everyday heroes and we are happy to highlight their excellent work. “
The money raised by the lottery helps many of these school heroes, including $ 386 million this school year which supports the work of school support staff such as office assistants and guards. Additional funds will help build and repair schools, support the NC Pre-K program for ‘at risk’ four-year-olds, provide scholarships and grants based on financial need, and meet financial needs. school transport needs.