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    Teaching Airmen: Mentoring from the classroom to among ranks

    Teaching Airmen

    Photo By Amber Williams | Chief Master Sgt. Gequetta Jenkins and Master Sgt. Yvonne Phillips pose for a photo...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Amber Williams 

    165th Airlift Wing

    Yvonne Phillips walked into her seventh-grade classroom not knowing she would find a lifelong mentor. Phillips had grown up in a military family, as her dad served in the U.S. Army. After living in Germany and across the U.S., her family relocated to Savannah, Georgia and her dad enlisted into the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard.

    “I remember my (seventh-grade) teacher, Ms. Fagan,” said Phillips. “She had just graduated college (but had already gained a reputation), everyone knew when you walked into her classroom it meant business!”

    “Although she was strict, her class was always a lot of fun beneath the structure,” said Phillips.

    After graduating high school 2002, Phillips decided to follow her father’s footsteps, she enlisted into the 165th Airlift Wing as an aviation resource specialist. It was then that her recruiter, now Command Chief Master Sgt. Rodney Jenkins - also the same recruiter that recruited her father, mentioned that his wife was a seventh-grade teacher in Hinesville, Georgia.

    “There is no way! I remember hearing that she (Ms. Fagan) was getting married,” said Phillips. “Then I saw her and it just felt unreal!”

    Phillips would be serving alongside her former seventh-grade teacher, Ms. Fagan, now Chief Master Sgt. Gequetta Jenkins.

    “In March of 1995, I started (both) my teaching career and my military career,” said Jenkins.

    Jenkins described her first year in teaching as an eye-opener. “I came into my first teaching job in the Spring,” said Jenkins. “The seventh-graders had already gone through three teachers that year and their mission was to go through a fourth. However, I survived that last few months of school and learned a few tricks along the way on how to survive.”

    She remembers when her husband told her that he had enlisted one of her students and she discovered it was Yvonne. “It was one of those (indescribable) feelings when you hear a student is successful and doing well,” said Jenkins. “It’s a proud teacher moment and hopefully, I had a part in their success.”

    Phillips isn’t the only student Jenkins has crossed paths with in the military. In fact, Jenkins works with another former student at the 117th Air Control Squadron, where Jenkins now serves as the Chief of Operation at the 117th Air Control Squadron where she is chief enlisted over command and control.

    “The strangest part is when you realize how small the world is,” said Jenkins. “On my last deployment, I had a young lady run up to me and ask if my name was Ms. Fagan, to which I replied, yes. She then pointed and told me, ‘that guy over there said you were his teacher!’”

    With a bachelor’s in sociology and a minor in education, Jenkins reflected that she didn’t choose teaching, teaching chose her. “I’ve always loved helping people,” said Jenkins. Now (Dr.) Jenkins Ed.D., also holds a master’s in education and a doctorate of leadership and education administration.

    Jenkins said the biggest takeaway from both her teaching and her military career is that you have to meet people where they are. “Every person is different. Education is about individualizing education,” said Jenkins. “The military is no different. We all have our core values. But what motivates one Airmen doesn’t (necessarily) motivate all Airmen.”



    Date Taken: 05.09.2019
    Date Posted: 05.09.2019 15:11
    Story ID: 321698
    Location: SAVANNAH, GA, US 

    Web Views: 269
    Downloads: 1