From the Military Base to the Classroom: A Story of Kelly Charles


Courtesy Kelly Charles

“I had no idea about going into the military. It never even crossed my mind until I graduated high school.” Graphic design teacher and yearbook adviser Kelly Charles was a previous serving Marine before he began teaching.

Now, being a Marine and being a teacher are two completely different careers, so how did he get here?

Charles joined the United States Marine Corps in 1982 and was in the military until 1989.

“I lived in a really tiny town in the hills of Kentucky, and I looked at it as a way to get out of there and go somewhere different, so that’s one of my biggest reasons as to why I joined the military.”

When Charles first joined, he did supply, which is managing and handling warehousing, packages, and hazardous materials, as well as accounting and purchasing. As Charles said, “It wasn’t very exciting.”

After being in supply for a little while, Charles did Diplomatic Security. Diplomatic Security is where “special agents are unique in the U.S. in being both members of the Foreign Service and law enforcement officers with investigatory and arresting powers,” according to Wikipedia.

Charles began thinking of retirement during his serving time in the year 0f 1988.

“I started thinking about when I get out and thinking about different things. I thought it might be a better option to do some of those things outside of the military,” said Charles. “I retired, so I could go to go to college and to get my degree.”

After the military but before his time teaching, Charles owned a mortgage branch for a while but ended up shutting it down.

“I shut down the mortgage branch, and, at that point, I didn’t know what to do, so my wife had been a teacher for a very long time, so I got a substitute teacher’s license and decided to try it out. I ended up liking it very much, so I decided to stick with it.”

Charles considered going back into the military.

“I tried to get back into the National Guard, and I just missed it by a few years because I was too old. I also tried once going back into the Marines, but I didn’t get in because I didn’t know all the right information.”

After teaching for ten years, Charles said, “I regret changing my career path sometimes, but I think you kind of have to have regrets because you have to try to take advantage of everything you can and do a bunch of different things. I think there’s always going to be regrets.”

Even with the regrets Charles, has said, “I absolutely enjoy teaching right now. I really like it. I like the kids, I like the interaction between the kids. I like the camaraderie among the teachers and when you’re actually doing some good instead of just kind of going through a career just trying to make as much money you can without any real meaning.”

From military work to co-owning and then owning his own mortgage branch, eventually ending up right here as a teacher for A-TECH, Kelly Charles is a living example of being able to do anything you set your mind to.