By Edwardeen Jones, MI State Director, and Mark Brejcha, TTT participant and teacher
“Your attitude will determine your altitude,” we’ve heard this phrase so many times in our military careers and it certainly rings true in just about every area of our lives, but when they come from Gail Halvorsen, Air Force Colonel (retired), the famed candy bomber and hero of the Berlin Airlift, they mean something more.
“In December 2015, the front office patched a phone call into my classroom. It was 95 year old Colonel Halvorsen calling to say “thanks” to my 6th grade social studies class for reenacting a live “candy drop” at our local high school football field…pilot, plane, parachutes, and candy,“ said Mark Brejcha, TTT participant and 6th grade social studies teacher at Big Rapids Middle School in Michigan.
The call was prompted by students sending a Big Rapids Cardinal care package to the Colonel, to include personalized mini-parachutes from the students. “For my students to hear the voice of arguably one of our military’s most celebrated Airman, inspired my students beyond anything a text book or Youtube ever could,” said Brejcha.
Brejcha’s education journey began with Troops to Teachers and continues still. The personal connections, the world experiences, and most of all the leadership training he received as a military member all fit in the classroom. Many of the same challenges he encountered in the military are also found in the public school classroom and he says he is fully qualified to handle them. “Being an educator is stimulating and rewarding beyond description,” beams Brejcha. “Love them, notice them, inspire them” is his motto. As an educator, he says he has no problem wondering if his life after the military is still making a difference in this world.