Recognizing a Role Model

by Apr 1, 2021People, South Brunswick

West Brunswick High School JROTC instructor Jeff Clendenin is named an NC School Hero.

The North Carolina Education Lottery has named West Brunswick High School JROTC leader Jeff Clendenin as one of 10 NC School Heroes in the state.

The Education Lottery created the NC School Heroes program to recognize teachers, principals and other school workers who make a positive impact public schools every day. Nominations were made by parents, teachers and community members, and more than 4,900 nominations were submitted in this round. Both the School Hero and their school receive a $10,000 award.

Jeff Clendenin JROTC NC Lottery

An 82nd Airborne Ranger who retired as a first sergeant after 23 years in the U.S. Army, Clendenin leads the strong and successful JROTC program at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte.

His dedication to excellence for his JROTC students led to his selection as one of the winners. He is known for going above and beyond for his students.

He says he doesn’t just help them graduate, he helps them reach their full potential. Thus, he assists in finding scholarship opportunities, mentors students, provides guidance on enlisting and stays current on certifications like high ropes course instructor just to keep things interesting for the kids.

“It’s kind of a change to go from warrior to teacher,” says Col. Joseph Calisto, a colleague at the school. “He’s got quite the legacy. He’s genuine and he has the ability to innovate and create a learning environment that is second to none. Our program would pale in comparison without him. He has made the difference between success and mediocrity. He truly is a role model for all of us.”

Clendenin’s daughter, Jennifer Hatley, says that he defines the word “hero.”

“He’s always willing to give you the shirt off his back and he continually pushes and strives for excellence in every avenue of his life,” Hatley says.

Jeff Clendenin School Hero Brunswick NC

Clendenin says he plans to use his award money to take a trip to Hawaii to visit a former student. Jonathan Pascal, principal at West Brunswick High School, says that the school plans on using the money to enhance the JROTC program.

The lottery raises more than $725 million a year for education.

Money raised by the lottery assists many of those School Heroes, including $386 million this school year that supports the work of school support staff such as office assistants and custodians.

Additional money will help build and repair schools, support the N.C. Pre-K program for at-risk four-year-olds, provide college scholarships and grants based on financial need, and help meet school transportation needs.

“Teachers and school staff have all stepped up for our children during these unprecedented times,” says Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “The 10 School Heroes selected this year provide a glimpse into the world of these everyday heroes, and we are glad to shine a spotlight on their great work.”

For details on how $5.4 million in lottery funds have made a difference in Brunswick County, click on the “Impact” section of the lottery’s website,