Johnny Pierre, an 8th-grade Math teacher at Coney Island Prep Middle School, didn’t realize how much he wanted to be a teacher until college classrooms helped distract him from his time in the Marine Corps. “It’s a part of my life, and there is so much I carry with me from that experience, but it’s not who I am now,” he cautions.
He is originally from Harlem. A year into college, he felt aimless, and his father had recently passed away. “It was just me. I had no positive male role models left, and I just wanted more for myself, to be somebody.”
He signed up for the Marine Corps.
Now in his second school year at Coney Island Prep, Mr. Pierre still wrestles with his time in the Marine Corps. He was a transportation specialist, closing down camps, moving materials, and, most difficult, recovering gear from convoys that had been attacked or disabled. Nothing, and no one, is ever left behind!
What he carries with him, still, are the values of the Marine Corps. Honor, courage, and commitment, he says, are so similar to Coney Island Prep’s PRIDE values of professionalism, respect, integrity, determination, and excellence. The values apply wherever he is. After his time in the Marines, he took those values with him to college, where he thought he would study to become a lawyer.
The more he took college classes, the more he appreciated the distraction the classroom provided and the guidance of his professors. “Getting my education distracted me from everything that I went through. I was able to take that energy and put it into my school work. My focus shifted from what I went through for the last four years to what I was going to accomplish next.”
“I no longer want to dwell on what I went through – I want to reflect on how it made me who I am now. I’m no longer Lance Corporal Pierre. I’m Mr. Pierre now.”
Veterans serve at every Coney Island Prep campus. In our schools each day, they bring a set of experiences that many of us will never truly understand, but that have prepared them to be excellent leaders for our scholars.
We thank the veterans among our staff, families, and supporters for their service to our country and our community!