When Edward Lofland crossed the border with his U.S. Marine Corps unit into Iraq in 2003, their mission was to secure the oil fields from Saddam Hussein’s troops. He hadn’t begun to contemplate post-military life. Driving into a hail of gunfire, his only thoughts were about staying alive.
But nearly two decades later, after a highly decorated military career that taught him innumerable skills, he can see that making the transition from U.S Marine to Kumon Instructor was a natural educational journey for him.
From his engineering degree at the University of Delaware to his master’s degree in global business, along with the slew of graduate courses he took in the Marine Corps, Lofland always had his eye on continuing education. Now, as a Kumon Instructor, he’s continuing that tradition with his own children and those at the center he opened at the onset of the pandemic, in March 2020.
“I really love the benefits it provides the community,” he says. “Getting kids that are behind and getting their confidence up so they are advancing is really, really exciting.”
Veterans are prevalent throughout the franchising industry. According to the International Franchise Association’s (IFA’s) VetFran program, 14 percent of U.S. franchise owners are veterans. That’s one in seven. VetFran focuses on educating veterans and facilitating their entry into franchising. Lofland is one of many veterans who became a Kumon Instructor following his military service.
Lofland knew from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in the military, graduate from college and travel the world. He set that goal for himself when he was 7 years old.
During his secondary school days, he earned good grades, received numerous academic awards and was heavily recruited by the Marines. He wanted to pursue electronics and engineering. The Marine recruiters saw he had the scores to get into the U.S. Naval Academy, but he would have to wait until the spring to attend. He was anxious and wanted to get out of his neighbourhood, and spring was too far away.
So, he decided to enlist. But after finding an anomaly in an EKG, his doctor recommended he go to college first and refused to sign off on his physical. He headed to the University of Delaware, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. From there, and with a clean bill of health, he joined the Marines and soon found himself in combat.
During his military career, Lofland served several combat tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Kuwait. But life in the military wasn’t all about active combat missions. He also served in various roles in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Philippines, Thailand, Italy and Germany before retiring as a major.
He eventually met his wife, Elizabeth, who also happened to be his colonel’s daughter. Today, the couple have been married 15 years and have five children.
As his military career was ending, he began debating what he wanted to do and researching business opportunities that fit his skills and personality. Kumon was the perfect fit.
His wife first learned about Kumon on base in Okinawa, Japan, and they eventually enrolled their children.
“I didn’t really want to work for anyone else,” he says, laughing. “I’ve been in the Marine Corps and served, so I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to start a business. I just needed to pick which one. Kumon, to me, was a no-brainer. I loved it and wanted to invest in my kids.”
Lofland’s mother had taught him the importance of math skills at an early age.
“I loved math,” he says. “That’s just me. But I think if (students) understand it and do it all the time, it becomes part of life. And they are then able to put things together. Combined with the reading program and critical thinking, that was the icing on the cake.”
He was sold on the idea of Kumon and contacted the company’s North American office before he left the service to let them know that he was about to retire in Virginia Beach. Coincidentally, there was a center available there.
“I love the program and I love what it did for my kids,” he says. “I love the idea of being a self-learner and love the idea of contributing to the community.”
But he also saw where he could make a significant impact in a child’s life as an instructor.
“They need to understand it’s a global world and they need to be prepared for it,” he says. “And the best way to be prepared for it is knowing the fundamentals of math, reading and understanding critical thinking. By doing that, they will learn more about the world around them.”
Lofland is proud of his service in the Marines and as an instructor.
“I love the United States,” he says. “I’ve dedicated my life to it. This, to me, is the way to continue my dedication, not just for my family, but also to my nation.”
He also finds the skills he learned during his time in the service helped him overcome obstacles, including the onset of a pandemic in the first month he was open.
“The leadership I learned in the military and the people skills – leading groups, leading organizations, planning huge events – those things now make everything easy,” he says.
He now has students who have been in the program for two years, and they are doing great, he says. “When they get an understanding of, ‘Hey, I can do this,’ it’s just awesome.”
Register for an introductory seminar to learn more about the Kumon opportunity.