13th Annual Pat's Run

Pat Tillman Scholar Joseph Wheaton gave up law career to teach children

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Joseph Wheaton in the classroom at Skyline High School in Mesa (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Joseph Wheaton in the classroom at Skyline High School in Mesa (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A picture of Joseph Wheaton when he was in the Army (Source: Joseph Wheaton) A picture of Joseph Wheaton when he was in the Army (Source: Joseph Wheaton)
A picture of Joseph Wheaton when he was in the Army (Source: Joseph Wheaton) A picture of Joseph Wheaton when he was in the Army (Source: Joseph Wheaton)
The 13th Annual Pat's Run is Saturday, April 21. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The 13th Annual Pat's Run is Saturday, April 21. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Pat Tillman Foundation) (Source: Pat Tillman Foundation)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A former Army Ranger who served his country in the military is on a new path.

Joseph Wheaton is now inspiring children's minds through teaching.

Being a Pat Tillman Scholar helped pay for his master's degree in education.

As an Army Ranger, Wheaton met Pat Tillman a couple of times.

The two didn't know each other well but Wheaton said everyone knew the story of the NFL player who gave up millions of dollars to serve his country.

"The number one thing that speaks to me about Pat's legacy is selfless service. Putting country and principle above self," said Wheaton.

Wheaton now teaches advanced placement government classes and leads the academic decathlon, but his road to the classroom wasn't a direct path.

After the military, Wheaton moved to Arizona and got his law degree.

However, working in criminal prosecution didn't bring him the sense of purpose he was searching for.

[SPECIAL SECTION: 13th Annual Pat's Run - April 22, 2017]

Through Teach America he jumped right into teaching, tackling the challenge of teaching at a school in need of strong leaders.

At Skyline High School in Mesa, more than half of the students face major financial and personal challenges.

Wheaton says, "I have students that don't have their basic needs met whether it comes to food or where they're going to sleep at night or that they're not going to be abused. You have to treat students as individuals. I find a one size fits all approach isn't going to cut it in the classroom, like most places in the world."

His approach to teaching is not just leading but pushing his students who help shape the courses.

"They learn to be uncomfortable in my class," said Wheaton. "I find that's a great skill to have, partially from something I got from my time in the battlefield. You never know what you are going to get but you learn how to deal with the things that get thrown at you every day."

As a Pat Tillman Foundation scholarship recipient, Wheaton encourages his students to take an approach that represents Tillman's legacy, "Always charging in. Giving your best even when times are tough. That's what it's all about," said Wheaton.

[RELATED: 13th Annual Pat's Run at Sun Devil Stadium]

THE RANGER CREED

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my Ranger Regiment.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move farther, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One-hundred-percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor. 

RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!

[TILLMAN SCHOLARS: Class of 2016 (PDF file)]

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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