War puts ‘dream’ on hold for West teacher

       Few soldiers going to Iraq have a more profound incentive for winning the war than James Logan. The way the 20-year military veteran sees it, the sooner the United States is successful in its mission, the sooner he can return to teaching art at West Middle School. James Logan (at lectern) watches admiringly during his farewell assembly March 10 as students unroll a roughly 50-
foot-long paper sheet filled with comments from well-wishing West Middle School students.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Logan, a six-year District 11 teacher who calls teaching at West “living a dream,” was honored by students and staff at an all-school assembly in the school gym March 10 on his last day before shipping out to begin training for his duties as a first sergeant with the Colorado National Guard's 169th Brigade.
       “I'm proud to be a warrior,” Logan told the students at the assembly, with a clear double meaning regarding the West nickname. “I'm a West Warrior now and I will be when I come back.”
       At that point, the tall, solidly built, 44-year-old teacher/soldier, clad in military fatigues for the occasion, had to pause to wipe away a tear. Many in the audience were already crying themselves, girls hugging each other, disconslate to see him go. And the number of dry eyes decreased even more a few minutes later when Logan ended his brief comments with a sharp military salute to the students, then departed.
       In his introductory comments, West Principal Joe Torres made it clear that the school shares Logan's desire to teach there again. “We look forward to your speedy return,” he said, lauding him for his help at “many of the activities at our school.” But Torres also emphasized for the students the significance of Logan's assignment. “His sacrifices are for us,” he said, “for our country and our freedom.”
       Logan already had been called away by the National Guard once this school year - a 45-day tour to Louisiana to provide security and rescue assistance after Hurricane Katrina. Iraq will be a longer assignment, one that could last as long as a year and a half. Logan's brigade will be the lead brigade in a division of 25,000 soldiers, he explained in an interview prior to the assembly.
       In his previous Army career, he had served in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 that liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. “It was great seeing that sigh of relief in the Kuwaiti people,” he recalled.
       Logan admitted to “mixed feelings” about going now. “In all honesty, there were three first sergeants who wanted to go before me,” he said. “But I've been there and I know I could save lives. Do I want to be in harm's way and leave West and my wife and kids? No. Do I want to save lives? Yes.”
       Logan has a wife, Maxine, who teaches at Sand Creek High School, and children ages 22 and 17.
       His thinking on Iraq is that the war is not with the great majority of Iraqi citizens, who welcome freedom and see the American soldiers as “heroes,” but with the terror-minded insurgents. What's important is treating the citizens with respect so that they will help the Americans root out the terrorists, he explained.
       “If we can make Iraq free sooner, we can get us out of there sooner,” Logan said. “If we can, it's sweet for me, because less time means less death.”
       What has helped him become an effective teacher, he believes, is his personal background as an “at-risk kid.” It was an art teacher who helped him get away from gang influences, by encouraging and nurturing his artistic talent.
       Eventually, with support from his teacher-wife, “I decided I wanted to be an art teacher,” Logan said. “Here at West, I've been living the dream - inspiring young minds and getting paid for it.”

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