“Read with a Vet” brings Veterans to Jackson Heights

students around their teacher wearing military fatigues in classroom
Veteran and Teacher Ben Lane with students during “Read With A Vet” day at JH

In honor of Veterans Day, students at Jackson Heights welcomed several Veterans into school yesterday to “Read With a Vet!”

Each service member spent time in classrooms, reading a book and answering students’ questions about their military service … such as: what are the kitchens like in aircraft carriers? “The kitchens are huge,” said Navy Vet Jim VanDerwerken, father of second-grader Cora. “The front galley served all kinds of fast food, and at the back of the ship was a sit-down dinner. They’re open 24 hours a day!”

Ms. Mauro wearing Veteran dad's Army jacket smiling
Principal Carrie Mauro with her dad, Veteran Colonel David Thompson

“You make friends and family,” noted Marine Staff Sergeant Chris Picard, who brought his uniform jacket in for kids to see up close and touch. Army Colonel Dr. David Thompson (Principal Carrie Mauro’s dad!) also brought in his dress uniform and let students try it on after reading the book “Turkey Trouble.”

Ms. Mauro also showed students Dr. Thompson’s Bronze Star Medal, earned for heroic service as a surgeon during his combat deployment.

One important Veteran didn’t need a visitor pass–because he works as a special education teacher at Jackson Heights every day: Army Veteran Ben Lane! He wore his fatigues to school, and brought in his duffel bag and scrapbook from his time as a Combat Infantry Specialist in the Iraq War. “Mr. Lane is patient, calm, and compassionate with all his students,” notes Ms. Mauro. “He teaches with a passion that expects the best from them, and we are so proud to have him as a member of our faculty.”

Veteran Marine showing uniform jacket to student seated at desk in classroom
Veteran Marine Staff Sergeant Chris Picard

Former Glens Falls Mayor and Veteran Dan Hall also joined a classroom to read a story and talk about the service portraits he brought in. Many visiting Vets had direct connections to students and teachers in the building, such as: Veteran Glen Binette, Baelynn’s dad; Veteran David Earsing, Caiden’s grandpa; Veteran Justin McKinney, Zachary’s dad; Veteran Michael Washburn, Alice’s dad; and Veteran Dennis Moore, Ms. Elder’s grandpa.

“It was so special and meaningful to have each of these Veterans with us,” said Ms. Mauro. “It brought so many emotions … pride, sadness, intrigue, wonder. The whole school really got so much out of it!”

A full photo album of the day can be found on the district’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/GlensFallsCSD

Happy Veterans Day with deep gratitude to all those within our school community who served.🎗🇺🇸