D.C. National Guardsman Deployed at Capitol Teaches His Students Music Lessons Between Shifts
When Sgt. Jacob Kohut became a music teacher, he likely never thought he'd be giving lessons to students from the back of a Humvee while protecting the nation's capital.
But that's exactly what the past week has been like for Kohut, a D.C. National Guardsman and band teacher who's taken his lessons to Zoom while being deployed.
"This is what a hero looks like. 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," Canterbury Woods Elementary School wrote on Twitter. "And between shifts, he is dedicated to CWES students, teaching from D.C."
Kohut, 34, has been a band teacher for more than 10 years, and has spent the past five enriching the lives of students at both Canterbury Woods and Frost Middle School in Fairfax County, Virginia, the Washington Post reported.
When he was deployed to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 13 ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, he didn't think twice about making sure he'd be ready to teach, no matter the circumstances.
"If I can be there for the kids even though I'm down here, then it's kind of a no-brainer. That's what I'm going to do, even if I'm tired," Kohut told CNN. "I think when you're passionate about things, you find the energy. You find the strength to do them. You make a commitment and a priority to do those things."
Since arriving in D.C., Kohut has been giving his elementary school lessons on the drill floor of the D.C. Armory in the mornings before his 12-hour Guard shift, then teaching his middle schoolers from the back of a Humvee while on break, according to the Post.
It's also not the first time he's combined his Army experiences with his love of music; he's played the bassoon and the saxophone in the 257th Army Band for the past 11 years.
"What I really wanted was to teach," the Michigan native told the Post. "My mom, who is a single mother, was a music teacher. That's why I do what I do, because she was such a good role model."
Canterbury Woods principal Diane Leipzig told the Post that she offered to find Kohut, who is married and has a young son, a substitute to cover his lessons during his deployment, but he declined.
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"He absolutely loves his students and would do anything for them," she said. "He is extremely dedicated. I think he is an excellent example. He teachers our kids the importance of practice, determination and resilience."
Kohut told CNN he considers himself a soldier both for the Constitution and for music education, and that he does both "with a full heart."