U.S. Marine turned teacher honored as ‘Proud Michigan Educator’

Lt. Col. Bryan Forney teaches math and science at Innovation Central High School

A veteran of the U.S. Marines who survived a horrific helicopter crash, and now teaches math and science at Innovation Central High School, has been honored for his service to students and country.

Retired Lt. Colonel Bryan Forney is celebrated as a #proudMIeducator in a video from the Michigan Department of Education. Forney, in his second year of teaching at Innovation Central, was recognized in honor of Veterans Day. He is the 16th educator so honored by the campaign since it began in 2016.

“Lt. Col. Forney is an extraordinary representative of military veterans continuing their service by teaching and inspiring Michigan’s young people in our classrooms,” said Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles, noting Forney earned his teaching credentials with assistance from the Troops to Teachers program.

Forney lost his left arm, several fingers and suffered severe burns in a crash during a training flight in Thailand in 2013. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, with degrees in aerospace engineering and applied physics, he became certified to teach high school during his recovery. He was hired at Innovation Central in 2017 after formally retiring from the Marines.

“I figured that my entire adult career had been serving my country. Next, I wanted to serve my community, defending democracy by turning out the best possible citizens coming out of high school,” Forney said in a School News Network profile last year.

Videos of previously recognized Proud Michigan Educators, including former Michigan Teachers of the Year Luke Wilcox and Tracy Horodyski, can be viewed.

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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