Mr. Manuel Lara, a math and business teacher here at the Islands, served in the military for the U.S. Army Reserve. A Channel Islands High School graduate, Mr. Lara joined the Army in November of 1988.
During his time in the military, Mr. Lara got the chance to travel around the country. He was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, Fort Ord in California, and Fort Harrison, Montana. He did his basic training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in Fort Jackson, S.C. Mr. Lara was also stationed with the 6252 U.S. Army Hospital on the Port Hueneme Naval Base.
Mr. Lara initially worked in an Army hospital handling medical supplies, and then as a dietitian his last 4 years of service.
One of the main reasons Mr. Lara joined the military was to receive the free college benefits they offer through their Montgomery GI Bill.
Through the bill and the Total Loan Repayment Program, the Army paid off any school debts he had.
“Within a year everything was paid off. There were some people I knew that were $45,000 in debt and for me, everything was just paid off,” said Mr. Lara.
Oxnard College, University of La Verne, California State University, Northridge, and Azusa Pacific University are all the schools Mr. Lara attended to get his degrees; associates, bachelors and business, teaching credential, and master’s in education are all the degrees he obtained, respectively, attending these schools. All of which were paid off by the GI Bill.
“The Army paid for all of school, that’s why it’s so good,” added Mr. Lara.
Mr. Lara recalls his experience in the Army as a great one where he got the chance to make many great friendships. Being in the Army also made him a more responsible person.
He honorably served the U.S. Army for ten years. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and after his contract was up, Mr. Lara decided to not renew his contract.
“Military life is a difficult life,” expressed Mr. Lara.
The hardest part about being in the military, as Mr. Lara recalls, was being away from his wife and kids, his family. His wife’s opinion was vital in his decision to not renew his contract.
“She said to me ‘You did your time serving the country,’” Mr. Lara said.
Mr. Lara, an old face at the Islands, has now been teaching for 22 years. He started off teaching at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School as a first-grade teacher his first four years and then moved on to teaching the sixth grade for six years. After teaching at Christa McAuliffe, he moved here to CI and has been teaching since 2007, which he enjoys very much.
Like Mr. Lara, all his four kids have attended and graduated from Channel Islands High. His eldest son, Mr. Michel Lara, also works here at the Islands as a counselor.
Apart from being a Dodgers fan, traveling is a thing Mr. Lara enjoys doing, which dates to his experiences in the Army. He has visited Machu Picchu and Chichen Itza, two of the seven wonders of the world, with his wife. They both plan on visiting the remaining five wonders.
Mr. Lara served his time in the U.S. Army Reserve and is proud to have joined the United States Armed Forces for the time he was able to.