Misty Cantrell, Army
Counselor, Wylie West Junior High
Misty Cantrell’s job counseling junior high students might seem a bit terrifying to the average person.
But Cantrell remembers a time when she was driving a military vehicle across the deserts of Iraq knowing that an ambush or land mine could be waiting around every corner. After that, hormone-crazed junior high students are not a problem.
Cantrell is one of at least 20 Wylie employees who formerly served in the military and who bring their experiences to their jobs in the district.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Cantrell said of having so many veterans employed in the district. “Kids need people that have real world experiences. It opens their eyes.”
Cantrell served six years in the Army because she wanted to improve her life, get a free education and go on adventures.
She accomplished all three.
“It got me out of the bad place that I was in,” she said. “I was raised in gangland. It paid for my college. It gave me world experiences.”
Cantrell served in medical logistics, but she also served as her company commander’s secretary and his driver.
She started her career stationed in Germany, which is where she was when the twin towers fell in 2001.
“We were originally scheduled to go to Turkey, but we were re-routed to Iraq,” she said.
They were flown in to Kuwait and had to convoy to Iraq. As driver for the commander, Cantrell was at the wheel of one of the vehicles.
“We had heard all these stories about convoys being lost,” she said. “When we lined up, all I could see as the driver was the two dots in front of me. (The taillights of the vehicle she was following.) That whole trip we were white-knuckled. But our entire unit made it there safe.”
Misty said she participated in many convoys while in Iraq, and she had to concentrate on the road regardless of what was going on around her.
“I went on a lot of convoys with my commander to check on troops,” she said. “Your focus is to get from Point A to Point B as safely as possible.”
She said being in Iraq definitely gave her perspective.
“You see a lot of crazy things,” she said. “You see the third world country life. You see the kids that are living in the middle of all this. When you go and see what’s going on, it really opens your eyes to what you have over here.”
In addition to her work as counselor, she is the coordinator of Wylie’s Student2Student Program, which is designed to help new students integrate into Wylie, particularly military students.
“That’s why my heart and passion is into this S2S program,” she said. “It’s for the military kid. My goal is to continue to grow this program.”