Double Duty: Teachers make impact in classroom, military duty
During the school week, Jessica Hoffman teaches math to sixth-graders, while Adrian Acosta coaches baseball and teaches. However, when the two aren’t making an impact on students, they are off making a difference for their state and country, on military duty with their fellow soldiers.
Hoffman teaches at Harrison Schmitt Elementary School, but even before she began her teaching career, she joined the Army in 2007. She attended New Mexico State University while she was still enlisted, and graduated in 2011 with a major in secondary education and a minor in military service.
“I always wanted to be a teacher, but had a calling to serve,” Hoffman said.
The military is in her blood, as both her grandfathers and her father served in the Army.
Hoffman is a human resource officer in the Reserve, which means she helps soldiers with personnel files, awards, evaluations and personal readiness when they are ready to deploy. Hoffman was previously stationed in San Antonio, Texas, but moved to Silver City two years ago because her husband’s family lived in Silver City and Las Cruces.
She has been teaching at Harrison Schmitt for two years.
During a Silver Consolidated Schools Board of Education meeting two months ago, Hoffman presented Harrison Schmitt Principal Leslie Ormand with the Patriot Award, which is part of the employer support program of the Guard and Reserve. According to the employer support website, the Patriot Award “reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.”
Ormand said Hoffman plays an important role at the school.
“The kids love her and she is an excellent teacher,” Ormand said.
Handling the teaching job and serving her country does take a toll.
“It can be tiring,” she said. “It makes a long week, but it helps with support of fellow teachers and administration.”
Her family members also help out by watching her kids. Hoffman’s husband, Brian, is in the Army Reserve — both enlisted together at the same time — and works in the Border Patrol. They have three children.
When Hoffman isn’t in the classroom or on duty, she runs, and makes wooden furniture.
Hoffman plans to finish her remaining seven years in the Reserve.
Over at the county’s other school district, Acosta works as a teacher and head baseball coach for Cobre High School.
Acosta graduated from Western New Mexico University with a degree in mathematics, and later earned a master’s in teaching. He started his teaching career at WNMU in 2002, and later taught at Snell Middle School and in the Deming and Silver schools. This is his first school year teaching at Cobre High.
The math teacher joined the Army National Guard in 2006, and is currently a team leader in an infantry unit.
“I joined because I wanted to try it out,” Acosta said. “I have family in the military.”
Both his father and grandfathers served — and all were in the Army.
“I always heard stories about the military, and wanted to see what it is like,” he said. “I started teaching so I couldn’t do full time, so I joined the Reserves.”
Each district Acosta has taught in has supported his two jobs, teaching and serving his country.
“Even in Deming, I deployed for a year and it didn’t give them trouble,” he said.
Acosta heads to training the first weekend of the month for two to four days. He trains mostly at Fort Bliss, in El Paso.
Handling teaching, coaching and military service, Acosta is always on the go.
“It’s really tiring,” he said. “I am busy all the time. During baseball season, I have three days off a month.”
However, he loves what he does.
“Because I enjoy all three [jobs], I think that helps a lot,” Acosta said.
Teaching helps Acosta in the military because he works with kids right out of high school. It is also a conversation starter.
“I like to talk to them about what they did in high school,” he said. “A lot have played sports in school.”
Serving also helps Acosta in teaching and coaching.
“Military schools give me ideas for my own classroom,” he said. “I learn physical workouts we do in the military. I apply them to coaching. Leadership is big. The military is structured all around leadership.”
When Acosta has spare time, he spends time with his family, going fishing and being outdoors. He has six kids, and has a daughter on active duty in the Army.
Acosta is on year 13 of his service, and plans to go for the other seven.
“What gets me through is family support,” he said. “The support from home. I think without a strong home, it would be hard to do any of that stuff. I thank my family for being supportive.”
C.P. Thompson may be reached at email@example.com.