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Veteran’s Life of Service Continues in the Classroom

Ithaca, NY – Ask Travis Getzke about his time in basic training and his stories may surprise you.

The infantry soldier turned TST BOCES Health and Physical Education (PE) teacher has spent more than half his life dedicated to service and still carries the same drive with him he had nearly twenty-five years ago.

 “Basic training was a whirlwind experience for me,” said Getzke. “The drill sergeants kept us busy pretty much all the time between training, equipment maintenance, and ceremony practice.”

Stories of long days spent training and short nights without rest are not a surprise coming from an Army National Guard veteran with nine years of service under his belt. His source of motivation to “drive forward,” as Getzke called it, was letters.

“My father sent me a letter every single day,” said Getzke. “The simple act of sending mail to me quite often kept my spirits up and helped me to drive forward.”

The act, however worthy, did not come without a price. Every piece of mail would cost twenty push-ups, Getze shared, which led him down another blissful memory.

“One day, during the mail call, there was a giant envelope addressed to me,” Getzke recalled with a smile. “My sister’s entire fourth-grade class wrote letters to me! I received twenty-five letters that day and it was totally worth it.”

To hear the stories Getzke shares about his time in the Army is to know what kind of teacher he is at TST BOCES – a positive, hard-working, team-player who does not let obstacles impede his view or slow his drive.

Getzke has spent the past sixteen years at BOCES and thinks of his transition into teaching as a natural journey. “My father was a Physical Education teacher for 33 years, so I grew up around PE and athletics all of my life.”

There are lots of parallels between being a teacher and being a soldier, according to Getzke. The one difference now is what drives him forward.

“It’s the smile on a student’s face when they have a breakthrough and are able to perform a skill or task that was a challenge for them,” he said.

The Army veteran has traded in his letters for smiles, and this time, they won’t cost him 20 pushups.

TST BOCES would like to take this opportunity to thank all our veterans for your service, sacrifice, and for your dedication in all walks of life.