JCJC alumnus and former assistant baseball coach earns Troops to Teachers honor

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2013-11-04 11:46:25

ELLISVILLE – It’s not the first honor he’s received as a member of the Armed Forces or as a teacher, but the JCJC graduate and former assistant JCJC Baseball coach from 2004-2008, Jody Babineaux said being selected for the Troops to Teachers program is being used as a teachable moment. At his request, a $10,000 check was presented recently from the organization in front of his students. The current Power Academy (Laurel’s alternative school) sixth through eighth grade math and history teacher said he hopes this honor will inspire his students and any youth in need of role model.
“As a young African-American, I wanted them to see someone successful that's not an athlete, who accomplished success with brain power.  I want to be a good role model in Laurel.”

Earlier this summer Babineaux was also named the Mississippi Semi-Pro Baseball Coach of the Year Award for his work with the Laurel Black Cats. Baseball, he said was something he just couldn’t leave alone.
“I wanted my kids at the alternative school to know that athletics is not the only avenue for them to find success and money.”

The Lake Charles, La., native was on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corp from 2000-2004, before coming to the JCJC campus in Ellisville, Miss. He was stationed in Iraq for the first attack in 2003. After graduating from JCJC in 2006, Lt. Babineaux joined the Mississippi National Guard while he was in the ROTC at USM. Upon graduation in 2008, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Mississippi National Guard until 2010, when he was deployed to Iraq.  While serving as a Platoon Leader in Iraq, and leading a mission in 2009-2010, his convoy was attacked with an IED.  He was awarded the combat action badge and was later transferred to Mosul, Iraq, serving as a contracting and project manager officer.  In 2010, Babineaux transferred out of the Mississippi National Guard to the U.S. Army Reserve where he currently serves as the 647th transportation company executive officer in Laurel, Miss.
“When my ROTC orders sent me to Iraq, I was the assistant coach at JCJC.  I loved working at Jones but my future was in the military because it had benefits and it was my responsibility as an officer.”
When he initially returned to Jones County, Babineaux said it was difficult finding a job so he taught GED night classes in Laurel, at the Pine Belt Adult Education Center.
“It was cool to see kids working. Administrators noticed the scores were going up and they offered me a teacher’s assistant job,” said Babineaux.
That opportunity and his military career, led to the nomination of Babineaux for the Troops to Teachers program.  The two-time combat action, Operation Iraqi War veteran is one of only a few U.S. Armed Forces veterans to be selected for the Troops to Teachers program, which assists in recruiting quality teachers for schools serving low-income families throughout America. It also helps relieve teacher shortages and the program assists military personnel successfully transition to a second career in teaching. 
“I want my students to know about my military background, that I want to be here, I'm professional, well-educated and that I care about my students. I didn't graduate in the top of my class but I made smart, strategic decisions and it took some time but it's paying off. I hope they can see themselves doing the same.”    
The 33-year old and his fiancé are instrumental in helping at least 15 kids earn baseball college scholarships when he worked with the Laurel Black Cats, which also put him in the spotlight. His numerous military medals and badges he's earned over the years from three branches of the military, combined with his seemingly natural teaching abilities, are also factors for receiving the accolades.  
“I'm happy and not surprised that he was recognized,” said his fiancé, Fabulous Jones, who is also a JCJC graduate. “He works so hard at everything he does; he's just being himself.”  
The current Laurel resident earned a B.S. degree from USM in sports administration and coaching education, with a minor in military science (ROTC).  He is two classes away from earning his masters of arts in secondary education from William Carey University.
Dr. Brad Harrison, JCJC Career and Technical Student Services Director, was one of Babineaux's graduate-school teachers at William Carey. He commends Babineaux for being an excellent student, teacher, military hero, professional, role model, brother to his siblings and father.
“He was so excited about the honor,” said Harrison. “He told me he'd be on WDAM-TV news for a 'job well done.'  He is very deserving of this award.”   
Babineaux said he’s not sure what he’ll do with the money but he has some ideas, like reinvesting it in the community. 
“I’ll probably donate the money to purchase school uniforms for my students, purchasing recreational items and anything that helps to change the attitudes of children so they can get a quality education.”


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