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Army Veteran makes a difference with JROTC

jorge cruz.jpg
Arcadia Cruz
Jorge Cruz displays his 2018 Kids of Character award. He received the award from The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Jorge Cruz founded the JROTC program in 2002 at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida. He had served as a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army for 24 years. He said starting the JROTC program was one of his greatest decisions.

"I thought it would be fun to build something from the ground up, be the first one to do it," said Cruz.

"I had 45 students per period. It wasn't tough because the students respected me, but you have so many, and I found out quickly that teaching, you teach every day. You never know who you're going to touch."

Cruz continued, "I didn't have to be in school 'til 7:45 every day. I was always there at 6-6:15, and the reason I did that is because I want to make sure that if there was a student that needed assistance, needed to print something, needed help with something, I was there for them to come to the classroom. My classroom was open, it's like a revolving door."

"I try to make time for for whoever needs a voice because I might be their sounding board."

"My students continue to talk to me now. That's why I never changed my email," he said. "That's why I never changed my phone number 'cause I want them to feel comfortable, and I’m always there for you no matter what."

Cruz retired from Cypress Bay two years ago, but he kept working as a teacher. He visited 30 schools across South Florida to speak about the importance of education and keeping a positive mindset.

"See, I understand as a teacher, what my role was, that's to prepare the students to be today's citizens and keep this country going the way it should be going," he said.

"When I started teaching, never, EVER did I know how much money I was gonna make because I didn't do it for that. I did it to make a difference, and I always had that in my mind. I want to make a difference in somebody's life, so they can be successful. Hopefully, they'll make a difference in somebody else's life."

Reporter Ryan Bell asked, "And did you make that difference?"

Cruz laughed, "I think so."