Terry Juba Connelly - Class of 1978
Lt. Col. (R) US Army
Senior Army Instructor, Freedom High School JROTC Program

On time and disciplined, is the way Lt. Col. Terry Juba Connelly describes the qualities that he hopes to instill in his students. As Senior Army JROTC Instructor at Freedom High School, he has had a great deal of experience in both the world of the military and the world of education.

My mission is to motivate young people to become better citizens, he explains. My job requires me to teach young people to participate as a team, make good choices, and grow both mentally and physically. I teach students to understand service to the nation, community, and school while participating in activities in and out of the classroom. The most enjoyment I get from this career is to watch students grow from 9th to 12th grade, to see them gain an understanding of the environment we live in, and then to make good choices on their future. My inspiration for doing this as a second career was to assist students to excel with whatever career choices they make.

The challenges I face everyday are low motivation and self-expectations of young high school students. Students cant see themselves beyond high school. They are happy with today and have limited goals for tomorrow. My reward in this profession is watching students grow from one level to another. All my students do not go to college, and all do not join the military; however, all are challenged to become good citizens.

After high school I attended Appalachian State University where I played football and was a member of the ROTC. After graduating from ASU with a degree in Information Systems / Management, I spent twenty-one years on active duty in the United States Army as a Military Intelligence Officer at all levels of command from Platoon to Army levels. I was required to find, track, and destroy threats to the United States using electronic warfare. I also studied Financial Management at Syracuse University as a Budget Officer for 3rd Infantry Division, and I have graduated from several leadership and technical schools in support of Intelligence and financial operations. This high-tech training prepared me to motivate young people at Freedom High School because they could see what dedication and hard work could accomplish.

But out of all my schooling, I learned the best lessons on the playground at Drexel Elementary School.

Lots of people motivated me along my way, so I felt it was my duty to do a job that would allow me to motivate others. My grandfather, Pete Caldwell, Jr., was my hard-working motivator; my dad, Ted Connelly, my perseverance motivator; my mother, Angelee Connelly, my dedication motivator; Mrs. Barbara Bliss, my educational motivator; and Colonel Foster Payne, my military motivator.

My time at East Burke was very memorable. One of my best mentors, Mrs. Bliss, introduced me not only to another language but also to the enjoyment of travel when we visited France. At the time, I had no interest in seeing other countries, but after that trip, I realized how much I enjoyed experiencing other cultures and how important it is for Americans to interact with people from around the world.

Of course, my military service took me to other locations and countries as well. I have served in three war zones: Iraq, Somalia, and Desert Storm. I have been stationed in Hawaii, at Kaiserslautern and Baumholder Army bases in Germany, and at Daegu Army base in South Korea. I have also traveled to Italy, Poland, and Russia. I was even present at an important moment in history when, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan visited West Berlin and spoke the famous words, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. I believe that these experiences give me insight that I can share with my students.

As far as how his other high school experiences shaped his thinking, he has only one statement: Football is the best teacher of life.

Even after he retires from teaching, he hopes to continue to motivate young people to do their best. They are the future, and we need to help them succeed.

Published October 2019

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