Kovacs returns to Jones after Military Leave

Daniel Kovacs returned to teaching in the Jones Social Studies Department after completing service for the U.S. Army across Europe. 

Kovacs is a Captain in the US Army Reserves, which requires him to spend time serving overseas. Kovacs left in January 2020, before the pandemic caused worldwide lockdowns and online learning, and returned this year in mid-February. 

“I am the commander of a transportation company,” said Kovacs. “We’re responsible for carrying fuel products around to US military locations throughout Eastern Europe, so we were a company of about two dozen trucks and we carry fuel to training areas throughout Eastern Europe.”

Kovacs was stationed in Poland but traveled to areas across Europe throughout his service. 

“I spent all of 2020 in eastern and central Europe. I was stationed in Poland, in a small town, kind of western Poland, but I was operating throughout Poland, and a variety of other areas in the country, spent time in Germany, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia,” said Kovacs.

During his time in Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns began, which interfered with some of his duties while he was overseas. 

“On Tuesday, March 8 of 2020, Poland went into a complete lockdown,” said Kovacs. “I remember that day because on the seventh, the country went into a complete lockdown and for most of March and April, all of the borders in Europe were completely closed, which made it difficult for us to do a lot of our assigned duties.”

During his absence, Kovacs still contacted his fellow social science teachers in department meetings.

“The fact that he was out of the country for a while, just meant that we had less frequent conversations with him because he didn’t always have the same timezone and access to the internet and everything that we did,” said Social Science Department Chair Nathan Tornow. “But he would join department meetings whenever he could.”

Kovacs has been talking to other social science teachers for help with online learning, due to their greater experience.

“He’s returning to remote learning, so most of his questions are based basically on that,” said Tornow. “He left the classroom when we were in person and returned when we were remote, so a lot of this he is just doing for the first time, [unlike] the rest of us [who] had been doing it since March of last year.”

Some Social Studies teachers said they expect Kovacs to work hard during the transition to hybrid learning.

“We have a bunch of great teachers in the Social Science department,” said Social Studies teacher Jonathan Smith. But we’re kind of siloed at times into course teams, and so I was on a course team with him for years, and he’s just a workhorse, he loves the content, digs deep into sources, and he wants to keep his conversations focused and centered around history.”