A National Guardsman, who also happens to be a music teacher, is taking multitasking to a whole new level. Not only is he protecting the nation’s capital during an uncertain time, he’s also been teaching virtual music classes between shifts.
And he’s doing it from the back of a Humvee.
Canterbury Woods Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia, proclaimed their music teacher, Sgt. Jacob Kohut, “a hero” on Facebook. “[O]ur band teacher Dr. Jake Kohut has been working around the clock since Wednesday,” school staff captioned. While the students are in Virginia, Sgt. Kohut teaches from the Washington D.C. Armory.
Kohut, 34, was deployed to Washington on Jan. 13 as part of an over-20,000-strong security effort ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration. Multitasking for the kids, he told CNN, was “kind of a no-brainer.”
“[E]ven if I’m tired,” he explained. “I think when you’re passionate about things, you find the energy. You find the strength to do them.”
Growing up in Michigan, Kohut’s mother was a single parent and music teacher. She was “such a good role model,” the Guardsman told The Washington Post. “That’s why I do what I do.”
Kohut joined the 257th Army Band as a bassoon and saxophone player 11 years ago and has been a school band leader for over a decade, teaching students at Canterbury Woods Elementary and Frost Middle School for the past five years.
National Guard service and teaching have “always gone hand-in-hand” for Kohut.
“You know, people say that they get burned out or they feel bored by what they do, the monotony of things,” the soldier told CBS News. “I just don’t feel that because I’m always going from one place to the next, and it’s always exciting.”
Since being deployed, the husband and father of a 3-year-old son has taught his elementary students on the drill floor of the D.C. Armory in the mornings, and his middle-schoolers from the back of a Humvee during breaks from his 12-hour shifts.
According to Canterbury Woods Principal Diane Leipzig, Kohut declined her offer to find a substitute for a long time.
“He absolutely loves his students and would do anything for them. He is extremely dedicated,” she said. “I think he is an excellent example; he teachers our kids the importance of practice, determination, and resilience.”
Kohut’s “battle buddy” on the Guard, 56-year-old Ronald Vazquez, said that Kohut’s dedication to his kids has “given me hope.”
Kohut admitted to CBS that he did get a substitute eventually. “[H]e’s been on standby, ready to go when the shifts interrupt the classes,” he explained. “I’m just doing the [classes] that I can.”
Adds Kohut, “They’ve been through a lot. I mean, we’re going on almost a year of virtual [learning] for these kids. So, the last thing we need is more instability.”