Veterans Day Salutes: Challen Alonzo
Honor. Courage. Leadership. Specialist (SPC) Challen Alonzo learned the value of these things and more during his three and a half years in the Army. He now takes these values and hopes to pass them to his second-grade class at Mountain Vista Elementary.
“My father was the primary influence and inspiration for me being in the military,” Alonzo said. “As a teenager, I thought: this is what I wanted to be -- a soldier who serves his country and puts others before himself.”
Alonzo recalls visiting his father, who led a unit at Fort Carson, as a man with an ever-pressed uniform and boots that shone. He describes his father showing compassion and empathy to the soldiers that he trained and mentored. Alonzo said he knew that was the kind of leader he wanted to be. Alonzo joined the Army as an infantryman and was also stationed at Fort Carson until serving overseas in Afghanistan for 12 months.
“Being deployed to Afghanistan made me realize how grateful I am for the education that we have in this country,” Alonzao said. “It was part of why I became a teacher. Having a public school system and free education is so important.”
Serving in the military has taught Alonzo important lessons about positivity, courage and honor that he tries to bring to the classroom. After the birth of his son, Alonzo was inspired watching the growth and development of his first child. He’d always felt an affinity for working with children and decided to pursue a career in education. One of the most important lessons from Alonzo’s service that he applies to the classroom is the value of empathy.
“Not everyone is the same, not everyone has the same life experiences,” Alonzo said. “Being able to show that understanding can mean you’re able to build a strong relationship with other people.”
Though Alonzo is only in his second year in Cherry Creek Schools, he knows that it’s a special place. He says it’s an honor to be part of a district that makes such an effort to recognize and honor veterans. He takes pride in being part of the district and its supportive and inspiring community.
“I am grateful to have made it through a lot of different situations and scenarios,” Alonzo shared. “I feel like I’m here for a reason: to help kids and share these positive values to grow and get better together.”