Lieutenant Colonel Janie Eddins never imagined she would become a teacher, but since coming to John Tyler High School she has fully embraced her calling to help students become better citizens.

Eddins has 75 students in her junior ROTC class. The class is not always easy and is bound to bruise some egos, but they choose to be there every day.

Eddins spent three decades in the Army Corps of Engineers, but she doesn't see the program as a recruiting tool for the military. Instead she sees an opportunity to help her students shape better futures for themselves.

"I've got good kids," she said. "It doesn't matter whether they want to go into the service or the workforce. We take everybody; when they come here they're family."

Students are given responsibilities based on seniority and initiative. While designed to be a four-year program, students often will join later in high school.

The typical JROTC structure requires two teachers, but Eddins has run the program alone since coming to JT. Luckily, her students have stepped up.

"Lt. (Cynthia) Zavala is the epitome of what leadership should be," Eddins said. "She has helped me so much. Whenever I need something, she's there."

Eddins said Zavala puts in the work, without question or complaint.

"I would love to have cadets emulate her," Eddins said. "She's a quiet soul, but she's a big noise. She shows (the cadets) how to think on your feet, to pretend you have your equipment on if you forgot it."

Eddins said the program has helped a lot of students who previously had discipline problems or needed structure. Many have a rough start and want to quit, but by the end of the semester they're invested.

The discipline JROTC instills in the students transfers to their other classes, as do the leadership qualities they learn.

When Eddins talks about her cadets, she's filled with a sense of pride for how hard they've worked.

Battalion Commander Elizabeth Andres said the program is preparing her for the next step in her personal journey.

"I actually want to join the military so what we learn here teaches the basics for what they do," she said.

Most of the cadets agree that the skills they're learning have helped keep them motivated to become better students and find ways to serve their community.

In the run up to Veterans Day, students were working on preparations for several events, including their inaugural Veterans Day Breakfast at the school.

"I didn't know what I was getting into, I thought I'd give it a try and it was hard," Eddins said. "That's fine though. I can't reach everybody, but if I can get just one, that's what matters."

Eddins said she is eager to help ingrain her cadets in the community and looks forward to interacting with service members and veterans in the area.

Veterans interested in attending the JROTC Veterans Day Breakfast at 8 a.m. Friday at John Tyler High School, should call 903-262-2969.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory



Veterans interested in attending the JROTC Veterans Day Breakfast at 8 a.m. Friday at John Tyler High School, should call 903-262-2969.


Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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