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After 25 years of service, Lexington veteran embarks on a new mission: teaching middle schoolers

By Whitney Harder
Special to KyForward

In the military, once you learn and become proficient at something you teach it to the people below you, according to retired Sgt. First Class David Gentry.

That’s what Gentry did — among many other duties — while serving in the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserves and Kentucky National Guard. And that experience led him to his next calling as an educator, a different kind of service to the citizens of Kentucky.

“I love seeing students’ lights turn on when they get it and when they have a passion for the subject I’m teaching,” said Gentry, who is student teaching at Lexington’s Carter G. Woodson Academy while a student in the University of Kentucky College of Education.

Retired Sgt. First Class David Gentry student teaching at Carter G. Woodson Academy in Lexington (UKNow photo by Beth Goins)

Retired Sgt. First Class David Gentry at Carter G. Woodson Academy in Lexington (UKNow photo by Beth Goins)

While in the classroom, Gentry — a Lexington native, Bryan Station High School graduate and father of three young girls — draws on experience from a military career spanning 25 years.

“I find that my military bearing helps in the classroom. Sometimes keeping middle schoolers on task is a full-time part of teaching. Plus, I can’t really drop them and make them do push-ups,” he joked.

In his first 10 years of active duty service, Gentry was an intelligence analyst serving in Hawaii, South Korea, Maryland and on the USNS Observation Island, a missile range instrumentation ship. He went on to serve six years in the Air Force Reserves as an aeromedical evacuation technician at the Andrews Air Force Base and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, deploying in 2003 and 2005, which included an assignment as NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) of personnel at a tent hospital in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina.

Following his time in the Air Force Reserves, he joined the Kentucky National Guard, serving as a medical technician for three years and a first sergeant for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron for the next six years.

David Gentry's military career spanned 25 years. (UKNow photo)

David Gentry’s military career spanned 25 years. (UKNow photo)

In October of 2014, Gentry retired but began a new mission at the University of Kentucky.

“While I was a medic, I started to pull away from the medical field, and since I volunteered at youth camps, I decided to move in to teaching,” he said.

Gentry is on track to graduate from UK in May 2016 with a degree in middle level teacher education, specializing in social studies and science.

“I have been blessed to have great instructors in the middle school program,” Gentry said. “What they have taught me is invaluable.”

Perhaps it’s Gentry’s service to the nation and students of Kentucky that is truly invaluable.

Whitney Harder writes for UKNow.

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