By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Madison Academy held their Christmas program, “The Plane Truth About Christmas” on December 7. While the students knew that the night would be about making memories with friends, they were not expecting one of the friends that they were able to spend time with.
Iott is 25 years old, and he went to Madison County High School, then North Florida Community College. He later transferred to FAMU and received his Bachelors degree in physical education. Iott explained, “During my enrollment at FAMU I was able to work with the basketball team and traveled all over the United States. I loved it.”
After college Iott needed to find a job and the Madison Academy needed a Physical Education teacher/basketball coach. “I was more than happy to meet the demand.”
However, basketball was not Iott’s only passion. “The thought of the military was always in my mind, and before I took the job in Madison Academy I knew I would join. The Madison Academy teaching job was only temporary, but then it turned permanent. And to be honest, I fell in love with those students, each and every one. But I had already made my mind to join the United States Navy. It was a very, very tough decision, but I had to follow my heart.” Iott chose to join the Navy. “I know that seems like a very selfish move, and to some it may be. But to me, it feels like I’m serving the students even more. I was sad to tell my academy family goodbye, but excited to begin a new chapter in my life.”
However, Iott was not simply leaving his Academy family behind. “I would write and call the school as much as I could.” It was one of those calls that led to his surprise visit. “One day, I had the time and called Mrs. Barrs. We chatted a while and she and I schemed a very brilliant plan. We would surprise the students with me showing up at the Christmas play. The plan started around the first of November.
Iott is currently stationed in Naval Air Station Pensacola Florida. After the phone conversation, Iott quickly started talking to his chain of command and getting it cleared for him to go. It was not too long before he had the green light. Iott was joined by his liberty buddy, Airman Norton. He is Iott’s roommate and he is from North Dakota. “I was introducing him to the southern style living of Madison County.”
“I was super excited. I told my mother and significant other, Ariel, to pick me up the day of the show. We drove 5 hours and made it on time. At one point I had to stop and change. It was funny, going into the bathroom and seeing two grown males changing into uniform. It was certainly not the everyday sight. We arrived on time and were able to see the entire play. I sat in the sound room at NFCC and watched them perform, while the students had no idea. When I was called on stage, it could have been the most nervous I’ve ever been, but everything went according to plan. Only five or six people knew I was there. There are no words that can describe how I felt that night. It was so great to see all their faces; students and faculty.”