A mentor among his troops and his students- CVHS science teacher Antonio Arredondo shares his experience in the army and in the classroom

Before+entering+teaching%2C+CVHS+biology+and+chemistry+teacher+Antonio+Arredondo+donned+this+uniform%2C+serving+in+the+army+for+20+years.+

Antonio Arredondo

Before entering teaching, CVHS biology and chemistry teacher Antonio Arredondo donned this uniform, serving in the army for 20 years.

 

In his first year teaching at CVHS, chemistry and biology teacher Antonio Arredondo is setting his goals high to help shape his students to be able to achieve their path to become whatever they want to be.

“I want them to be successful. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gonna walk out of here a scientist from my class. It means that they will learn how to learn. If they can learn how to learn and achieve their goals, that’s what I want for them,” says Arredondo.

Arredondo’s ability to teach life learning skills to students was shaped by his experiences as an administrator and leader serving in the army for 20 years.

“If I could put them in position to be successful, then my job was done. I spent a lot of time molding them to prepare them not just for life in the army, but for life in general. Oftentimes, you get kids coming in and they have never been away from home. They live with their parents or grandparents or just generally somebody else, and have never been on their own. I’m going to take the time to show them and that’s the life skill, I spent four years molding men and women to be better than what they were when they were first going in,” says Arredondo.

Arredondo was only a teenager when he enlisted in the army in 1999. He then served for 20 years until 2018, working in communications technology, programming and building networks, until he became an administrator. He originally wanted to enlist in the Air Force, but the recruiter wasn’t there. Fortunately, the Army recruiter offered him the same field of experience.

His decision to join the Army was due to family traditions and also because he didn’t want to burden his parents with paying for college.

“I have a family of two sisters and two brothers. I didn’t want to burden my parents with the cost of what it would cost for me to go to school. But I told them I would find an alternate way. You know, truth be told, I did get some scholarships to go to college, but it came after the fact, after I already left for military.”

Antonio was stationed in many places, including Chicago, San Diego, Sicily, San Antonio, Iraq, Houston, England, Portugal, Spain, Australia, and Hawaii. He’s practically traveled the entire world.

Arredondo recalls one of his most memorable experiences while serving, celebrating New Year’s Eve with his troop, after he had just turned 21.

“I don’t know if you know what the Seychelles or Mauritius, places off the coast of Africa down south- it’s a tropical paradise, and I’ve never been that far south, so it was all new to me and New Year’s Eve and I was just turning 21. Here I was, I just turned 21 in a foreign country and a paradise with other people from other services Spanish Navy, French Navy, British Navy, South African,” says Arredondo.

Arredondo has also been a combat instructor, teaching city combat to other soldiers, which is different from desert combat or forest combat. He recalls his most frightening experiencing passing through Iran. Constant firing forced his troop to be alert for than 24 hours straight.

“We had to pass through the Straits of Hormuz by Iran. And my job on the ship at the time was not only technology communication, but also to repair lockers. I was a firefighter at my second job. And so if you took any hit that put the fires out. So that was also nerve-wracking because you know that, again, it could hit us anywhere with a missile, or a rocket propelled grenade, or just small arms fire,” says Arredondo.

Arredondo says his proudest moment in the army was the moment he retired in 2018. With his love for the sciences, and his experience having taught other soldiers, Arredondo went into teaching, first starting out in middle school before transferring to CVHS. He states that his proudest and most terrifying moment teaching was his first day teaching.

“Oh, you know, coming out of high school, I took computer programming as a sign with c++ programming in high school. I really wanted to be in the field of psychology, but it was super easy to take a program language we used at school. I can build networks that could program the routers, switches, work with the servers. But as time progressed through the service, I realized that I have a pretty good knack of explaining things, and transitioned away from technology and got into teaching,” says Arredondo.

One skill that Arredondo has carried over from his twenty years of experience in the army to the classroom is his experience to understand people and build long-lasting relationships.

“I will say that one thing that I have carried over is my ability to get to know a solider or student. In combat, the person next to you is all you have sometimes. I know that is cliche, but you need to get to know them. I was able to create relationships with my troops to the point where when they went on different missions than they gave me the letter that they wanted send to their families. I still have soldiers to this day who reach out to me
to tell me that they have gone on to do great things because I influenced them.”