Tutor spices up domestic classroom lessons with a little foreign flair

By: Joe Gagnon Email
By: Joe Gagnon Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo, (KKCO) - Every day, a local army veteran tutors young students to be the best they possibly can be. And more.

Not only is the 85-year-old retired Army Sergeant giving his students at the Riverside Educational Center a chance to succeed in school, but he is teaching them things they never thought they would learn, Japanese.

His name is Hal Jacobson and the local World War II veteran is teaching some of these kids at the school a language he had to learn when overseas.

He says one of his finest students is Atiana Martinez who can now count to 100 in Japanese, Spanish and English.

"Hi," she told 11 News when we first met her followed by, "Hola and Ohio!"

Jacobsen says he has been Martinez's tutor for the last four years, "I was lucky enough to get Atiana as one of my students. She is a special student. Shes fun to work with."

He was a young man during The Great Depression, so he and his family sat around and read books, "There was nothing else to do," Jacobsen says. "No TV or anything. So my sister and two brothers sat around and studied."

After graduating third in his class from school he joined the Army and was promoted to Technical Sergeant while on-duty in Japan. While he was there, he learned the language because it was his only way to get by.

Now he passes it on to Mesa County's next generation, by teaching students at the Riverside Educational Center their classroom lessons and a little Japanese on top of that.


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