National Guard Soldier Pulls Double Duty As Elementary School Music Teacher
Dr. Jake Kohut holds his music class from a Humvee after being deployed to guard the Capitol.
While members of the National Guard are often pulled away from their normal lives when deployed, one soldier has gone the extra mile to ensure the students he teaches outside of his National Guard service face as little interruption as possible. Elementary school music teacher Dr. Jake Kohut is teaching over Zoom while deployed the National Guard to protect the Capitol following the Jan. 6 riot.
"This is what a hero looks like," Kohut's employer, Canterbury Woods Elementary School, tweeted. "A member of the DC National Guard, our band teacher Dr. Jake Kohut has been working around the clock since Wednesday to protect our nation’s capital. And between shifts, he is dedicated to CWES students, teaching from DC."
According to The Washington Post, Kohut spends what is often the only break he receives in a 12-hour National Guard shift sitting in the back of a Humvee with a laptop and a flute in order to teach a music class over Zoom. Kohut was deployed Jan. 13 to Washington, D.C. along with tens of thousands of other National Guard troops to provide additional security after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in violent protest of President-elect Joe Biden's upcoming inauguration.
But while Kohut could have told Canterbury Woods Elementary School he'd need someone to fill in for him during his deployment, the band teacher opted to juggle both jobs due to the challenge of finding substitute teachers and interrupting children's studies amid the pandemic.
"There's been a difficulty getting [substitute teachers]," Kohut told WUSA9. "It's also a difficult time for us in the band world. We're trying to sign these kids up for band in middle school and the last thing that's good for recruitment is the band teacher up and leaving for who knows how long."
To aid him in his teaching, Kohut packed a tool most other National Guard soldiers are unlikely to have: a flute. "The flute does fit in my backpack, but it's not known as the manliest of instruments," Kohut told WUSA9. "There is a guy who's really good at flute in the unit. I just make sure he's not around when I'm teaching."
Still, The Washington Post reported Kohut recently used his flute to teach his students how to play Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from the back of a Humvee.
Both Canterbury Woods Elementary School and the U.S. Army have publicly expressed their gratitude for Kohut's willingness to pull double duty. "We are proud of Sgt. Jake Kohut," the U.S. Army recently tweeted. "His selfless service to his country and his students makes him truly remarkable. Tell your students we said hi!"
Kohut, however, has "shrugged" off the title of hero. "It's an honor to be doing the work and be a part of this," he told ABC7. "This is what we train for and it's an honor to defend the constitution."