Perry Meridian High School journalism teacher
In Phil Glasser’s classroom at Perry Meridian High School, students may sometimes forget to turn in homework or overlook studying for a test, but nobody neglects to stand for the “Pledge of Allegiance,” recited daily as part of the Falcon TV newscast.
“I tell them how important America is,” Glasser said. “I tell them if they looked into their family history, chances are relatives spilled their blood on the battlefield so they could be free.”
His students quickly learn that this math teacher is a veteran, having served in the Army Reserves and later in the Indiana National Guard for 20 years. Gosser said his time in the military helped him pay off hefty college loans and taught him organizational skills and discipline, which he’s fostered in his classroom.
Other veterans at the school are:
• Julie Carey, social studies teacher, Army, Montana and Indiana National Guards.
• Gary Dant, maintenance, served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam.His late father, Joseph T. Dant, was a decorated World War II veteran and a prisoner of war for two and a half years.
• Alex Hernandez, school police, National Guard.
• Michelle Houston, cafeteria cashier and worker, Army, spouse of active duty Lt. Col. Donald Houston.
• Pete Oakes, science teacher, Indiana Army National Guard.
• Clark Quinlan, instructional assistant, Marine Corps.
• Tracy Roderick, cafeteria staff, Navy.
• Matt Schoettle, social studies teacher and wrestling coach, Marine Corps and Reserves.
• Kerry Simpson, instructional assistant, Army and Indiana Army National Guard.
These and other veterans will be honored during the Perry Meridian’s annual Veterans Day program, which is open to the public and begins at 8:39 a.m. Friday at 401 W. Meridian School Road
Those looking forward to honoring veterans include Brian Lee Jr., a senior with hopes to become a welder in the Army. He takes welding at Central Nine Career Center.
“Since my dad and my grandpa served, I thought I could do the same,” said Lee, whose father has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after being injured by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq.
But that hasn’t stopped Lee from wanting to join the military, even as he calls for more support for veterans and active duty soldiers who struggle with their emotional and mental health after war service.
One student organization centered on learning about the military is IMEX, whose members, including siblings Ben and Sophia Clark, will post the colors at the ceremony.
Led by Simpson, the Clarks and other youths learn about map reading, military history and geography. Simpson’s 22 years of Army service were varied, including serving as a combat engineer and a medic, a police officer, a recruiter and ROTC teacher.
“I’ve always liked working with young men and women, even the younger people first starting out while I was in the military,” he said.
Many IMEX members want to join the military after graduation and proudly name dads, cousins and grandpas who have served. Simpson said they’re a patriotic bunch, scrambling to make sure the flag doesn’t touch the ground, using images of Old Glory as cellphone screen savers and even incorporating Americana in their personal email addresses.
Yet Perry Meridian veterans-turned-educators help students learn that military service requires far more than respect for patriotic symbols.
Glasser warns his military wannabes that their commanders won’t tolerate soldiers being late to drills or doing sloppy work.
“What do you think will happen if you show up a minute late in the service?” he’s asked more than one out-of-breath student running into his class after the bell rings.
Most know already and respond: “I’ll be doing push-ups.”
Wrestling team members also are familiar with rigorous, military-style training, thanks to coach Schoettle. He can be heard loudly and clearly barking out commands and encouragements as wrestlers pound down second floor hallways during practice drills on stormy after-school days.