ONA, W.Va. — Thirty five educators from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio endured the rigors of Marine Corps boot camp during the 2013 Educator Workshop, April 30 to May 3, to gain a better understanding of the Marine Corps.
The Educator Workshop is an annual program conducted by recruiting stations across the United States as an outreach program to high schools within its area; with the goal of teaching educators to consider the Marine Corps as a possible career path for their students.
For recruiters like Sgt. Andrew Schnell, who recruits in the Lebanon, Ohio area, Educator Workshop has an important effect on high school students because it provides recruiters an opportunity to interact with teachers.
“The workshop gives them a better understanding of what their students, who join the military, will be going through,” said Schnell. “Some educators think the Marine Corps is the same as it was in the 1970s or they jump to conclusions based on some negative opinions they have heard; the workshop helps clear up those misconceptions.”
During the four-day workshop, educators receive briefs and hands-on training in multiple areas of Marine Corps basic training; running the gamut from briefs on educational benefits to firing an M16 A-4 Service Rifle on a rifle range.
The workshop activities began May 1 at 6:30 a.m. on the yellow footprints, which is where all recruits begin their journey of basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. From there, educators spent Wednesday and Thursday running through obstacle courses, firing on rifle ranges and competing in pugil stick bouts with Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors.
It was not all fun and games for the educators as they also received briefs on various aspects of recruit training and learned about the various benefits active-duty Marines receive, such as college tuition assistance. The educators also had the opportunity to eat lunch with recruits from their local areas. The workshop ended May 3, with the educators attending a graduation ceremony for a company of recruits who had just completed recruit training.
According to Michael Rowe, the principal for Pikeville High school in Pikeville, Ky., the Educator Workshop helped remove some misconceptions he and other educators had about the Marine Corps, particularly careers within the Marine Corps.
“I had no idea there were so many jobs within the Marine Corps,” said Rowe. “Like a lot of people, I though the Marine Corps was just infantry and sending people out to battle. The fact that there are over 300 occupational specialties really stood out to me.”
In addition to gaining knowledge about the Marine Corps, some educators also found themselves personally affected by the experience. One of them was Rachel Knapschaefer, a counselor with the Linden-McKinley STEM Academy in Hilliard, Ohio.
“I loved the activities…shooting a rifle, climbing the wall at the confidence course…I loved that. I loved testing my own limits and knowing what I can do as a person,” said Knapschaefer. “I don’t want to pretend basic training is too easy or too hard. Having that experience is really different than saying “I know someone who did” versus “I did.”