James Green went into teaching many years ago and he enjoyed it, he says. But after a few years, he realized he would need to pursue a different career to support his family. Green joined the Air Force, but he always dreamed of returning to the classroom. 

During his 25-year military career, Green kept his teaching certification current. About eight years ago he returned to teaching, and now “I get to teach because I want to,” he explains.

Green teaches fourth grade at Bonillas Magnet Elementary. He now sports a ponytail, and he says students might be surprised to learn that “I had a shaved head for 25 years.”

But Green hasn’t completely avoided the shears since leaving the military. In fact, he has donated his hair three times to benefit adult cancer patients. 

“My sister is a cancer survivor,” says Green, and someone donated hair for her, so “I am trying to pay it forward.” 

His students recently finished reading the classic novel “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. “They really seemed to enjoy it,” Green says. 

Besides introducing kids to the classics, Green gets to share his travel experiences with his students. He visited over 80 countries when he was in the Air Force, he explains, giving him a unique perspective to “talk to the kids about different places.”

Green was nominated by student Alex, who writes, “My teacher is great because he is always making me want to try harder. He is also great because he teaches well, and I am learning a lot from him.”      

Stephen, Alex’s dad, adds, “Mr. Green has been a wonderfully positive force in Alex’s life.” 

Edition: 
Tucson
Issue: 
December 2016