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The student news site of Kingwood Park High School

KP TIMES

The student news site of Kingwood Park High School

KP TIMES

O’Bryant brings changes to JROTC

First+Sergeant+Donny+O%E2%80%99Bryant+talks+with+students+as+he+gets+them+into+formation+in+the+commons+before+school.+He+spent+much+of+his+teaching+career+in+charge+of+the+JROTC+program+at+Summer+Creek+High+School.+
Fallon Head
First Sergeant Donny O’Bryant talks with students as he gets them into formation in the commons before school. He spent much of his teaching career in charge of the JROTC program at Summer Creek High School.

First Sergeant Donny O’Bryant grew up in a three-room house in Huntsville as the oldest of seven children. His first residence with running water did not come until he joined the army, where he was grateful to be provided with three meals a day and access to education.

Now the Air Force ROTC instructor, O’Bryant loves to advocate for students to follow a similar path, often beginning with JROTC.

First Sergeant Donny O’Bryant talks with a student out near the track. The students spent one day each week running the track during JROTC class. He often joined them for a few of the laps. (Jacob Valcarce)

“I didn’t come here to change the program,” O’Bryant said. “I just came here to teach discipline and to help them to have pride in being a part of the JROTC. I want them to be proud to be in JROTC because I know what the military has done for me.”

The AFJROTC program was left lacking instructors entering into this school year, following the departure of both teachers who had formerly ran the program. O’Bryant accepted the position of Senior Air Force Instructor, returning to Humble ISD after seven years of retirement and securing the continuation of the program.

“So they called me out of retirement to ask me to take over Kingwood Park, and my answer was Yes. What a great opportunity,” O’Bryant said.

The 67-year-old O’Bryant inherited 65 cadets and immediately made noticeable changes.

“Since the first time O’Bryant has been here, we have modernized,” Cadet Commander David Lazarte, a senior, said. “That’s the best way to put it. We got new computers, new monitors, a whole new room.”

O’Bryant’s ability to make instant improvements comes from his experience. He served 22 years in the United States Army, starting straight after graduating from high school in Huntsville. During O’Bryant’s time in the service, he worked toward multiple degrees, funded by the U.S. military.

Following his career in the Army, O’Bryant found work as a JROTC instructor at Conroe High School and Summer Creek High School, as well as a teaching role at Kingwood Lone Star College.

During his seven years of retirement from the military and teaching, O’Bryant founded the Greater Faith Church and his own business – WIN (What’s Important Now) Counseling Services.

“You finish your occupation and then you get to start your vocation,” O’Bryant said. “Vocation is what you do for the Lord. And so doing that, seven years, I got a chance to start a church from scratch.”

One of O’Bryant’s core philosophies of instructing JROTC programs is his passionate adherence to the guiding creeds of the U.S. military and the various JROTC creeds. Plastered on the wall of O’Bryant’s classroom is a poster of the Air Force JROTC Creed.

First Sergeant Donny O’Bryant talks with cadets in the commons before school on Oct. 17. He was in retirement for seven years before arriving at Kingwood Park to lead the JROTC program in August. He previously taught at Summer Creek High School. (Fallon Head)

He emphasizes in particular the line, “I will always conduct myself to bring credit to my family, school, corps of cadets, community, and to myself.”

O’Bryant draws a comparison between that creed and the Apostles’ Creed, recognizing the overlap in values of responsibility to yourself and those around you. O’Bryant said that the character trait that allows students and instructors alike to fulfill this promise is discipline.

“I’m all about discipline,” O’Bryant said. “People try to buy discipline, but you can’t buy discipline. You earn discipline.”

The cadets noticed that focus immediately.

“The discipline was lacking,” Lazarte said. “The discipline was not there at all, to be honest, and now that it is, it’s starting to run a lot smoother. People listen.”

O’Bryant has worked to instill this value in his cadets through drill practice, ceremonies, uniforms, conduct and attention to detail.

Under O’Bryant, every aspect of the program has been streamlined. Cadet First Lieutenant Aubrey Seiler, 11, said the most important lesson that he has taken from O’Bryant’s instruction is to be efficient in everything you do, as well as accepting responsibility. This includes cadets taking care of uniforms, maintaining the database, and teaching lessons.

“We’re learning so much more about leadership than we ever were before,” Lazarte said.

AFJROTC cadets study a diverse range of topics, from leadership to world history to economics, as well as interpersonal skills. O’Bryant aims to ensure that his cadets gain more from AFJROTC than drill experience. He works to make them well-rounded and prepared for life after high school.

“I feel like I’d be doing (O’Bryant) a disservice if I don’t mention how he’s very people oriented,” Seiler said. “He wants all of us to look out for our people and check up on people,which is really good when it comes to making sure our people are taken care of.”

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