KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — “I do it for the youth; there’s just no substitute for being able to pass your knowledge to the next generation and help make a difference in a young adult’s life,” said Warrant Officer Randy Jones, Utilities Operations and Maintenance Technician Officer for the 760th Engineer Company out of Marion, Va.
“It’s a great feeling when a student you taught 15 years ago calls you on the phone and thanks you and invites you out to dinner with their Family,” said Jones.
Jones, an Asheville, N.C. native, joined the Army in 1986 at the age of 17. After spending two years on active duty he was released from service during a force reduction and decided to go into the construction business like the rest of his Family.
While working in the industry Jones gained many certifications and licenses and was content making a career in the construction business, but that all changed one day while he was reading the newspaper.
“I really don’t know what got me into teaching. I was happy at my current job but saw an ad in the paper one day for a teaching position and applied,” said Jones. The next thing I knew I was hired and it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Although Jones’ primary focus is teaching he still operates a construction business and has built over 50 homes in the past 15 years.
“Being an educator is great, not only do I get to teach what I love doing but the hours are flexible enough to allow me to continue my own business,” said Jones.
Jones has taught workforce development, formerly known as shop, to high school students in Winston-Salem, N.C. for the past 18 years.
Since joining the Army again, Jones has served as a drill sergeant and warrant officer, where he has had the chance to continue to teach.
Jones takes a similar approach to teaching both Soldiers and students.
“To me there is no difference in teaching a high school student or a Soldier,” said Jones. I can be as hard on them as I need to be, but at the end of the day, I always make sure to tell them they are doing a good job.”
“I feel comfortable and confident when he is teaching me something new,” said Spc. Christopher Fussell, a horizontal construction engineer with the 124th Engineer Company.
Jones said his many years of teaching have taught him how to be patient.
“Chief (sic) is a great mentor; he watches how we do things and gives us feedback showing us a safer and more efficient way if possible,” said Pfc. Christopher Carter a carpentry and masonry specialist with the 1223rd Engineer Company.
“I feel it’s important to work with my students until they get it right and it’s my job to ensure that happens,” said Jones.
Jones says there are numerous challenges to teaching, but all can be overcome with a little bit of effort.
“The biggest challenge in teaching is showing the student what they are capable of. By building their confidence, they can start to believe in themselves,” he said. Sometimes it takes a little longer but it’s definitely worth the effort.”
“Chief (sic) has taught us to take pride in our work and pay close attention to detail,” said Spc. Laquan Johnson carpentry and masonry specialist with the 760th.
Jones, currently deployed to Afghanistan, has six Soldiers he teaches working with him at the 489th Engineer Battalion’s wood shop.
“I’m really proud of my Soldiers working in the shop, they have managed to produce some great works and have really came together as a Family despite being from all over the U.S.,” said Jones.
Jones said he has learned a lot from his Soldiers during this deployment and looks forward to getting back home to see his Family and start teaching another group of students.
“I never thought I would be a teacher but looking back I can’t imagine doing anything else but teaching,” said Jones.