JodiAnn Z. Dzierzanowski believes in helping others and encouraging those to do the same

JodiAnn Dzierzanowski has built for herself a fascinating resume with a varied career field and extensive courses of study. First attending Buffalo State University where she earned 82 semester hours in French and anthropology, JodiAnn Z. Dzierzanowski is currently Principal/Truancy Prevention Coordinator with the DISD and overseer of DAEP and the Devine Learning Academy, with the responsibility of recovery of potential and current drop-out students. In her spare time, and in keeping with her philosophy of helping others – including animals – JodiAnn has gone through training and inspections to be able to volunteer as a permitted Texas Parks and Wildlife Rehabilitator. She takes in orphaned and injured wildlife, helps them recover, and releases them back to the wild.
Prior to her present position with DISD, JodiAnn experienced a colorful career. She graduated from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Center in April of 1990. From there, she joined the United States Army Intelligence School, completing her Military Intelligence diploma in November of 1990, to become a Platoon Leader and Electronic Warfare Analyst.
In May of 1992, JodiAnn completed her Associate of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, European Division, with an emphasis in biology. Pursuing her career in the field of science, she then attended Texas A&M University, completing her Bachelor of Arts in December of 1995 with a major in biology and minor in chemistry. She then received her teachers’ certification from the University of Texas at San Antonio in May of 2001, followed by earning her Master’s of Science in Microbiology in August of 2002, again from UTSA.
Meanwhile, JodiAnn served in the United States Army as an electronic warfare voice interceptor and signals analyst from February of ‘89 to June of ‘92. Next, she worked in the entomology research and systematics laboratory, Jan of ‘95 to Dec of ‘95.
An interesting next move took JodiAnn to the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of the Southwest as a microbiologist/ lab technician – from February of ‘96 to April. Continuing in the field of beverages, JodiAnn then moved to the Pearl/Pabst Brewing Company as a microbiologist – May of ‘97 to July of ‘99.
Pursuing that teacher’s certificate, JodiAnn decided to enter the field of education, working for some years in Natalia High School, Southwest High School, and Palo Alto College, all serving in the areas of science. Her next stop was at Pearsall JH/High school as Academic Dean/Assistant Principal – October, 2008 to June, 2014. And that brings JodiAnn to her current position in DISD, the best of all, no doubt, stating, “It’s been wonderful in Devine.”
However, amidst all of the above-mentioned experiences, JodiAnn had a fascinating career serving in the U.S. Army. She explains that she graduated from her interceptor school just prior to Desert Storm. The U.S. entered the war about six months after she arrived in Germany. “I remember being asleep in the middle of the night in the barracks, and our platoon leader came around, banging on everybody’s door, yelling, ‘We’re at war! Get up and get dressed!’ “
JodiAnn goes on to say, “It was really surreal. After we lined up, we got briefed on the situation. They divided us into squads, at least six…. We worked at an intelligence post that was a high-value target due to the intelligence we gathered there. The post was located about eight miles from where our barracks were. The squads took turns, three days out; three days back; three days at work. Two squads went out at a time to patrol the post, so as one was back at home camp, the other was out on duty.
“The perimeter was never left unguarded. When we were out, we camped out in old WWII buildings located on the intelligence base. The buildings had not been used since WWII since many of them had bomb damage with blown-out walls and caved-in roofs. It was like time was frozen in 1942 there.
“It was in the middle of winter when we entered the war, so it was cold and snowy. The base camps weren’t very warm, though we had a building that had its walls and roof. We never had anyone physically try to enter the post, and the war was short-lived, so everything worked out.”
Commenting on the privileges of living in America JodiAnn has observed by her experiences serving overseas, she shares: “Living in other countries and serving in the Army really drives home what an amazing country we live in. I will always be thankful for the United States and the privileges it awards us by just living here, and the empowerment to change a situation if something is not right. Many people in other countries do not have that.”
To elaborate on those freedoms, JodiAnn gives this example: “One day when I was at work, we were discussing people getting deployed. The sergeants were telling us that the female soldiers deployed to Iraq were being restricted to stay on base because women in Iraq did not have any rights; they weren’t even considered equals to men or even to their own male children.
“There were American female soldiers who wore makeup, showed their faces, and wore pants, all of which women were not allowed at that time in Iraq. [In addition], Iraq didn’t want their women getting any ideas. To make matters even worse, American female soldiers were treated as equals in the U.S. Army, and when they left base, they were armed, giving them power among the Iraqi men. This was unspeakable in the eyes of Iraq in those days.
“One particular incident sparked off the conflict of women in Iraq. A female MP was driving in town in the MP jeep. Women were not allowed to drive vehicles either in Iraq. Holy men, also known as the ‘Islamic Religious Police’ or ‘morality police’, walked around with large sticks to enforce the religious laws at the time. A Holy man witnessed this soldier getting out of her jeep. He walked up to her and her jeep and started pounding on the jeep’s hood with his large stick! In response, the lady MP pulled out her pistol, locked and loaded, and made him back off!
“All sorts of Iraqis witnessed this whole interaction, including women and children. The Iraqi government became enraged and started talks with the U.S. to prevent situations like this in the future. …Keeping women on base was discussed as one of the solutions.”
In reflection of her life of many facets, JodiAnn says this: “I feel I’ve had a good life and have been blessed. I’ve learned a lot of things, including to be patient, grateful, and strong. I’m at a point in my life to pass it forward, so that is what I try to do. It takes nothing away from an individual to be kind to others or to animals. When I am able to help someone out and they ask me how they can repay me, all I ask for is that they do the same when the time arises.”

BRANDON LEE WHITE is headed for Airborne School

As related by JodiAnn Dzierzanowski, Principal of Devine Learning Academy, and edited by Kathleene Runnels
Devine Learning Academy graduate, Brandon Lee White, joined the Armed Forces and left for basic training on Monday, October 31, 2022. Brandon said that he wouldn’t have been able to complete high school without the help of the Devine Learning Academy; traditional school just wasn’t for him. Brandon stated, “I was very grateful for the opportunity the Learning Center gave me; otherwise, I never would have been able to join the Army.” He added “I was able to work around my schedule and complete my coursework at my pace.” Brandon graduated in July 2022.

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Veterans Day 2011, a tribute to Henry B. Briscoe (d. 2005)

By Ben T. Briscoe
(Edited by Kathleene Runnels)
For Veterans Day, I’d like to honor all those men and women who have served this nation in our armed forces. In my family, my grandfather on my dad’s side was a combat engineer in WWI; my dad served in the Air Force as a pilot in Korea and Vietnam; our oldest son was in the 75th Ranger Regiment and was deployed six times overseas in our Global War on Terror. I am very grateful and thankful for the willingness of those who serve and have served.
My father, Henry Briscoe, passed away 17 years ago this month. As a tribute to all Veterans, here is a bit of his story.
Dad served 23 years in the U.S. Air Force. He retired as a Colonel with his last duty assignment as a Base Commander at Mather AFB in California, retiring in 1976.
Most of our growing up years, we saw Dad in his flight suit more than in any other clothes. Those were drab, greenish/gray, one-piece jump suits with lots of zippered pockets, made of smooth material that was very tightly woven and almost shiny. His name tag was over his right breast pocket, a U.S. Air Force patch and wings over his left breast pocket, and his rank on his collar. There were unit patches on one shoulder and an American flag on the other. His footwear was typically black combat boots, and he wore a bidder on his head with his rank on the crest.
Dad flew a lot. I can’t recall his total hours of flying time, but the number 15,000 comes to mind. He flew transport planes and was good at it. Early in his career, he became a check pilot. His responsibility was to check out other pilots to insure they were following protocol and were good pilots. This included grounding some pilots that he felt were unsafe to fly; at times, that meant grounding some who held a higher rank than his. Dad flew a lot of missions where he’d be gone for weeks at a time. When he came home, it was always a big deal for my three sisters and me. “Daddy’s home” had real meaning.
Dad was a patriot; he loved what he did, who he worked with, and what it represented. Not only did he love his job, but he loved that it was serving his country. He had intended to make his living farming and wanted nothing more than to come back to Medina County and do just that when he left for college in 1948. But, before he graduated in 1952, the Korean War changed that.
After joining the Air Force, he thought he’d do his four years and then come back to Medina County, work the land, and raise his family. But, four years turned into eight, which grew to 12. Captain changed to Major, which changed to Colonel, and he was still doing what he loved.
Dad’s career spanned the vintage era from prop-driven cargo planes that carried an 8,000 pound load, powered by twin 1200 HP engines, to his last plane, which had four jet engines capable of 43,000 pounds of thrust each and could carry 380,000 pounds of cargo. He told me that there was nothing like taxiing out on a runway, getting the green light to pour the coal to four jet engines, and be able to harness and control that much power. No doubt he didn’t just hear that roar but felt that power and energy of those planes with every fiber of his being.
The power and freedom that flying gave Dad was symbolic of his country; he loved both. He flew all over the world. He was involved his whole career in hauling men and their gear and material around the world in support of war and peace, as well as of humanitarian relief.
Dad served a year in Vietnam in the early 1970s, but he flew in and out of the country all during the war. He never fired a shot in war, but he was shot at a number of times. He told stories of flying into air bases that were under attack and how big a target cargo plane was, landing in the middle of a firefight. He mentioned how time dragged by when they were waiting to be loaded when the bullets were flying. He stated how fast he could take off when they were cleared for departure by flight control.
I recall Dad telling me a number of times that during the war he had the privilege of flying our most precious cargo: flying out our war wounded, bringing them back to the states. Dad would often go back and visit with the injured during the long trip across the Pacific. He reported times when they would lose soldiers on the trip home. He had mentioned that experience to me numerous times, and I was too young to see it then, but I see now that it touched him deeply when a young soldier died before Dad was able to get him back home.
On November 13, 2005, Mom, Dad, and my family were going to eat supper with my little sister and her family in San Antonio. My wife, kids, and I picked up Mom and Dad in Devine and drove to San Antonio. Dad and I rode in the front and talked the whole way up. Dad was reminiscing and told me story after story of flying, of missions and formations, of plane wrecks and near wrecks.
He told me of one time he was landing on an air strip in a foreign country and as soon as the plane touched the runway, all the tires on the right side of the plane blew out on impact. Dad sat right there in the front seat, in my wife’s suburban, and recited the memorized protocol for what you do when all the tires on one side of a cargo plane blow at the same time. It was something like — trim this to so many degrees (he gave the specific number), cut air speed to X, flaps in this position, move a few switches to some critical point and step on something else really hard, all in a whole lot less time than it takes to state all of this. Then he recalled nursing a violently wobbling 350 ton aircraft, going 200 mph, to a stop, allowing him and all crew members to get off the plane safely. I remember looking at him and thinking, “My gosh, he’s sharp.” He told it like he had a just landed that beast yesterday.
That was his last day on earth, as the very next day, November 14, 2005, Dad flew home.
What’s it like to be the child of a military man? For me, I don’t think words go deep enough. Love. Honor. Integrity. Dignity. Duty. Patriotism. Strength. Wisdom. Knowledge. Faith. Compassion. Discipline. Ethics. These are the traits I saw in my father. My sisters and I were blessed by this and, in truth by both a loving mother and a strong father. If we could ask Dad today about his life and how he lived it, what it meant to him to serve, I’m sure he’d smile and say that it’s all wrapped up in being an American.
God bless all you men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Wreaths Across America

~ Recognizing those who served abroad and reflecting on the effects on citizens at home

Eselle Van Treese, mother of Kathleene Van Treese

One might imagine that many of today’s young people, and perhaps not so young, don’t fully understand the effect the wars of the twentieth century had on most of the citizens of the United States, going back as far as the onset of WWI. For example, consider the Selective Service, or, the draft.

On May 18, 1917, (six weeks after the U.S. formally entered the First World War) President Woodrow Wilson signed the Selective Services Act in preparation for U.S. involvement in World War I. At the time, the U.S. had a standing army of just over 100,000. The registration of men between the ages of 21 and 36 began one month later. Interestingly, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson began drawing draft numbers out of a big glass bowl, and as the numbers were handed to the President, they were read aloud for public announcement. Within a few months, 10 million men across the country had registered in response. By the end of WWI, November of 1918, 24 million men had registered; of the those who eventually served in the war, some 2.8 million had been drafted. The draft was then dissolved after WWI. (Historyonthenet.com)

Then, in September, 1940, Congress passed the Burke-Wadsworth Act, which imposed the first peacetime draft in the history of the United States. By October of 1940, all men between the ages of 21 and 35 were required to register with their local draft board. Subsequently, 66% of U. S. Armed forces members were drafted during WWII.

Reflecting next on the ultimate sacrifices of these wars, during WWI, the Allies (The Triple Entente – consisting of France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, and Japan) lost about 6 million military personnel. The Central Powers – Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria, and their colonies, lost 4 million. (WikipediA)

Then came WWII, which has been listed as the bloodiest war in human history, killing over 60 million people – 3% of the entire world population in 1939 died in the war. It is estimated that approximately 407,000 American military died in WWII and 12,000 civilians (due to crimes of war and military activity). The total death count for all Americans: 420,000. (Historyonthenet.com) The wartime draft then expired in 1947 but was reinstated the following year.

And then there’s the Korean War, 1950-53. Because of the need for additional soldiers during this war, the minimum age for the draft was lowered to seventeen, and men were to serve an average of two years, with men who served in WWII being exempt. During this war, the American casualties reached almost 40,000, with more than 100,000 wounded.

The Vietnam War, lasting from 1954 to 1975 between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, claimed 58,220 U.S. soldiers. On the day in 1973 that the Vietnam War drew to a close, the Selective Service came to an end, officially on January 27, 1973.

In addition to the above sited ultimate sacrifices from the wars of the 20th century, folks at home deeply felt the effects from the war. During WWII, not only was the workforce comprised of 36% women, (my mother, Estelle Van Treese, taxied airplanes at Duncan Field, which merged with Kelly Field in 1943) but families had to cope with many shortages of basic materials such as food, shoes, metal, paper, and rubber. While the Army and Navy needed these supplies, civilians at home needed them as well. Thus, the federal government established a rationing system that impacted virtually every family in the United States. Points were issued to each person, even to babies, which had to be turned in along with money to purchase goods made with restricted items.

For example, in 1943, a pound of bacon cost about 30 cents, but a shopper would also have to turn in seven ration points to buy it. These points came in the form of stamps that were distributed to citizens in books throughout the war. Tires, gasoline, sugar, coffee, meats, fats, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, were among the most necessary products rationed. (The National WWII Museum)

I should add that Bill Bain recalled his dad saying that he was afraid his “bald” tires might not make it to the hospital when Bill was about to be born. People had to keep their automobiles and tires indefinitely, and the government even told Americans to keep track of their tires’ serial numbers in case they were stolen.

Some of the shortages continued to be felt even after the war ended and rationing came to a halt, due in part to “years of pent-up demand.” (The National WWII Museum) My cousin, Gayle Van Treese Brice, whose mother was gone and whose dad was serving in the Army in occupied Japan, was being raised by our grandmother. Gayle recalls the two of them going to the grocery store and trading eggs for groceries, being careful not to go too often to save on tires and gas. Also, Grandma made Gayle’s clothes from feed sacks, as she also did for me!

I have another cousin who was born in 1939, and her father, my Uncle Morris, died in a plane crash in Berlin while serving in the Air Force. She never knew him. Then there was a high school friend who was born during WWII and never met her father, who was killed in Europe. How sad for her and her mother. These types of stories describe a tragic number of families; or, in many cases, even nowadays following more recent conflicts in the Middle East, countless soldiers met their babies for the first time following deployment. Imagine how this scenario can create stress and conflict in the family unit, not to mention how mentally and often physically damaged these soldiers were when they returned.

On a lighter note, but also worthy of reflection, here are some anecdotes to which some may find enlightening and to which others may be able to relate.

Because most men entered the service during those eras of the mandatory draft, it could not be assumed that all of these servicemen were of high standing, or good guys. Thus, as a teen, my mother cautioned me, “Do not make eye contact with the ‘fly boys’.” Living in San Antonio at the time, we young girls frequently encountered airmen in downtown San Antonio. In those days, Houston Street was the place to shop. We girls would take the bus downtown, walk down from the Hertzberg Clock on the corner of Houston St. and N. St. Mary’s St. to Joske’s Dept. Store, then walk back along the other side, usually stopping to get a hamburger at the Manhattan Café next to the Majestic Theater. (I hope that paints a vivid picture.) As we walked along, we often, very often ran across a group of airmen on leave from Lackland – the Gateway to the Air Force. So, Mother said it was best not to acknowledge them, even when they gave us the “wolf whistle.” And that they did do!

I well recall riding home with a fellow I had met at church – namely, Franklin Runnels – and, taking a circumvented route, we drove up to the Jet Drive-In on SW Military Dr. He asked me, “Do you like the Jet?” Naively, I said that I did not. You see, my mother had told me not to go there with my friends because that’s where the “fly boys” from Lackland hung out. LOL. So, we went somewhere else.

One time a friend and I were hanging out on the steps of the downtown Herman Sons Bowling Alley, where my mom and dad were bowling, when a couple of airmen came along. They asked us what there was to do in San Antonio, and we said that there wasn’t anything, really. (This was long before 1968 when Hemisfair made the River Walk famous!) Then I felt guilty for exchanging a conversation with these guys.

Aside from these lighthearted snippets, most of us alive today can only read of the effects the wars had on our men and women who served and on the families at home, or we might be able to recall stories told by our parents and grandparents, who undoubtedly held deeply embedded memories. History explains that the American family dynamics were changed forever, with the vast changes in wartime society and domestic adjustments evident today. (Www.u-s-history.com)

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The Wreaths Across America theme for these articles is to “Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve, and Teach generations about the value of freedom.” Devine’s ceremony and placement of wreaths on Veteran graves at St. Joseph Catholic and Devine Evergreen cemeteries takes place on Saturday morning, December 17, at 11:00 o’clock.