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National Guard member teaches kids on Zoom while guarding the Capitol

Sgt. Jacob Kohut pulls double duty.
/ Source: TODAY

For 12 hours a day, he is D.C. National Guard Sgt. Jacob Kohut, one of more than 20,000 National Guard members in the nation's capitol who will provide security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

For a few hours each morning on Zoom in his Humvee, he is Dr. Kohut, an elementary and middle school music teacher in Virginia.

Kohut is determined not to let his reserve duty keep him from serving his students.

"During this time, especially during the pandemic when things have been so turbulent and uncertain, if I can provide a little bit of stability, I'm all in," Kohut told NBC News's Gadi Schwartz.

For five years, Kohut has been a music teacher at Canterbury Woods Elementary School and Frost Middle School in Fairfax County. He plays bassoon and saxophone in the 257th Army Band when he's not teaching.

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The kids know that he is in the military and may occasionally get pulled away from teaching if he is called into service. Kohut tried to assuage their fears when they learned he was headed to Washington, D.C., in the wake of the violent riot at the Capitol.

"I try to kind of talk about it at the beginning, just saying, 'Don't worry about me, you know, we're good over here,''' he said.

Quickly toggling between his two roles has been a regular part of Kohut's life since he joined the service 11 years ago.

"The boots are there right in the next room with the uniform," he said. "It's always ready to go. That's just who we are; that's the way we live."

Music has long been an integral part of his life, as he played saxophone in high school and earned a doctorate in music composition from George Mason University, according to The Washington Post.

The U.S. Army recognized his service in a Facebook post on Saturday.

"Dr. (Sgt.) Jake Kohut, member of D.C. National Guard and band teacher at Canterbury Woods Elementary School, Fairfax County Public Schools, has been working around the clock since Wednesday," the post reads. "Not only is he protecting our nation's capital, but in between shifts he is dedicated to his CWES students, teaching from #Capitol. #CitizenSoldier | #ServeWithHonor"

Diane Leipzig, the principal of Canterbury Woods Elementary School, tweeted out her gratitude for Kohut's dedication.

"This is what a hero looks like," she wrote. "A member of the DC National Guard, our band teacher Dr. Jake Kohut has been working around the clock since Wednesday to protect our nation’s capital. And between shifts, he is dedicated to CWES students, teaching from DC."

A married father of a 3-year-old son, Kohut has been teaching classes remotely on a laptop in a Humvee or from the drill floor of the D.C. Armory before he begins a 12-hour shift for the National Guard at 10 a.m. each day.

"He absolutely loves his students and would do anything for them. He is extremely dedicated," Leipzig told the Post. "I think he is an excellent example. He teaches our kids the importance of practice, determination and resilience.”