Central Carolina Academy has a number of parents/guardians who are active military or veterans. There are also four Army veterans on staff. Meet our CCA veterans in this feature and learn more about how their military experience is an asset in their current school roles. We salute those who are serving or have served in the military in honor of Veterans Day.
Matt Mendiguren, Teacher and Coach
It is very intriguing; I never intended on enlisting in the military. My father was enlisted for 31 years at Fort Bragg N.C. and said he has done enough time for all of his children. After graduating from Union Pines High School in 2005, I went to Fayetteville State University to study criminal justice and maybe get into law enforcement. My parents and I had a hard time paying for it. I started to look at going Active Duty Army, but was talked out of it by my dad, and then decided on going in a reserve capacity with the North Carolina Army National Guard, to help pay for college. I finally enlisted with the NC Army National Guard as military police in November 2006, and left for basic training and military police school in April of 2007. After being deployed to Iraq I realized my military police education did not transfer to credits for criminal justice so I switched my college major to health and fitness science. I also decided to change my job in the National Guard to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) defense specialist. Essentially, I train soldiers in how to respond and defend against contaminated areas, as well as detect and decontaminate areas and soldiers. With all of these changes in my life, this brought me to coaching recreation basketball and getting more involved with my community. After a while of getting my Associate in General Education from Sandhills Community College and then my bachelor’s degree in Health and Fitness Science with a concentration in exercise science, I shifted my career ventures into recruiting for the Army National Guard until I could figure out what to do next with my degrees. I did not enjoy the recruiting aspect of the job. It put a lot of unnecessary stress on the family, and shifted back to working a security job in Fayetteville. The one thing I did like about recruiting was the career counseling portion I was able to help students with. That made me realize what my next mission or what my “why” is.
During this timeframe Central Carolina Academy was going into year one of being a public charter and the school needed coaches and volunteers to help. My daughter told me that they needed basketball coaches, and so I reached out to Frank Thompson, the athletic director at the time, and let him know I would love to volunteer to help coach. Needless to say I had a blast; it was the most fun I had in a long time. Since I completed my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, I then decided to put in an application to teach in the second year of the school. I applied to East Carolina University after I finished my first season coaching at CCA, knowing I want to get more involved with the school. As we speak I am still in my graduate degree program at ECU for Physical Education that includes completing a certification in sports management. I graduate in the spring with my Master’s in Physical Education. After that my goal will be to retire from the Army National Guard and focus on family and community. I want to help build CCA’s athletic program and continue to teach and mentor students to what their version of success is after they graduate.
Bob Pegram, Athletic Director and Teacher
I graduated high school in 1981, went to college for one year, worked for one year, then joined the US Army in the summer of 1983. I enlisted as a Turret Repairman (M60 and M1 tank hydraulics & electronics), and, after graduating Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC and AIT at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD, I was assigned to Schofield Barracks, HI. There weren’t many tanks in Hawaii so I cross-trained into any job that involved armament (howitzers, missile-mounted APCs, mortars, machine guns, rifles, and pistols). After becoming bored with that, I trained to be a welder and crane operator, which taught me a whole new set of skills.
I excelled at all the jobs I attempted, mainly because I wanted to make my family proud. Since I had learned several different jobs, I became somewhat valuable to our unit. I was assigned to many different unique tasks that allowed me to see other parts of the world. I have traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii 8 times, South Korea twice, Wake Island twice, the National Training Center (Mojave Desert) twice, and Pinon Canyon (near the Four Corners area). I spent almost 7 years in the Army and really enjoyed my time in the military. I matured as a man, learned multiple trades, and I learned how to appreciate people that weren’t like me. The most valuable thing I took from my military career was the more you learn, the more you know, and the more valuable you are to other people. I use this strategy today in education.
I’m a Science teacher, Health & PE teacher, bus driver, and Athletic Director, and have coached many different sports (mostly football and track). I’ve taught several different science courses ranging from AP Environmental Science to Physics to Anatomy & Physiology. I can summarize my education career by referencing my military career; the more you learn, the more you know, the more valuable you are to other people.
Andrew Stone, Teacher and Coach
Andrew Stone served 20 years in the Army in Field Artillery with four deployments to Afghanistan. After graduating from high school, he initially went to college with the intent of being a middle school social studies teacher, but was inspired by the events of 9/11 to enlist in the military. Mr. Stone was drawn to CCA by the vision of the school. About a week before school started this year he learned there was a PE position available and applied. As a CCA parent and husband of a CCA middle school teacher, the position fits his interest and was good for work/family life balance. Mr. Stone is also coaching middle school and high school girls’ basketball. In a September PE unit, students rucked 50 miles with backpacks weighing approximately 20-25 pounds. They raised over $850 to support the Wounded Warrior Project and help bring awareness to soldier suicide.
As an educator, Mr. Stone believes it is important to give students the facts and help them develop skills for them to make their own decisions. He values being able to work with students for whom school may not always come easily and finding alternate ways to motivate and help them to reach their potential. Mr. Stone is exploring school administration as a next step.
Frank Thompson, Assistant Principal
I started my “military” career in JROTC at Sanford Central High School. I continued ROTC at Appalachian State University. In 1981 I was commissioned in the Army Reserves and was in a training battalion in Charlotte, NC. Our mission was to go to a basic training post and help train young soldiers. When I graduated from Appalachian State, I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. I received a medical discharge from the Army in 1984. I work hard to enter the North Carolina National Guard. In 1988 I was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant 1/252 Armor Battalion, which is part of the 30th Infantry Brigade. I remained in the National Guard until I resigned my commission in 1997.
My plan growing up was to make a career out of the military. I did very much enjoy my time in the Army. The main thing I learned in the military was, if a leader will take care of his soldiers, his soldiers will take care of him. The part I liked most was working with soldiers to get promotions and recognitions to help future their careers. That is what I bring to Central Carolina Academy – to help students succeed so they can be successful in whatever they choose to do.