Dalton teachers get motivation from former student - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dalton teachers get motivation from former student

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J.R. Martinez. J.R. Martinez.
DALTON, GA (WRCB) - As local school teachers prepare for new faces, the staff at all Dalton Public Schools Monday heard from a special guest and hometown hero.

J.R. Martinez is a Dalton High School graduate and army veteran. In 2003, he hit a roadside bomb in Iraq and suffered burns on a third of his body. Monday he returned home with an inspirational message for some of his former teaches, coaches and classmates.

"The way I was embraced by everybody in the school system... I felt like I had been here my whole life," Martinez said.

Martinez calls Dalton home. It's where he spent senior year of high school and played football. And Monday he spoke in front of many former teachers, coaches and classmates.

"I do a lot of speaking engagements all over the world," Martinez said. "This one is gonna stick out because its when you're in front of your home crowd, there's a little more nerves attached to it because you definitely want to be on your better game because you want them to be very proud of what you've been able to do."

Martinez has been to hell and back and he's got the scars to prove it. But he said he was never alone in his journey back to health. And more than a decade after graduating from high school, he's back in Dalton with a lesson for the teachers and coaches who once taught him.

"Whether you're a teacher, a principal, a janitor, if you're here and you're a part of the school system, you can make a difference, you're around kids every single day," Martinez said.

Dalton public schools return Thursday, August 7.

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