YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – While reporting on Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, 27 First News Reporter Nadine Grimley and photographer TJ Renninger tagged along with a group of Valley teachers and guidance counselors on an educational trip. It is the Marine Corps’ way of giving educators a peek behind the curtain on what their branch of the service is all about.
It is the beginning of January, and educators from the Cleveland recruiting area, fresh off winter break, are sitting behind desks to do a little learning themselves. It’s a field trip that takes professional development to a whole new level.
The goal of the trip is to teach those on the front lines of the classrooms about the Marine Corps and what they’re looking for in potential recruits.
“It is probably the most amazing experience I’ve had in my life to see how all of this works and see these kids turn into Marines,” said Hubbard teacher Debbie Wack.
Crestview High School counselor Darrin Miller said he has been to a lot of workshops and this particular trip ranks at the top.
“Being able to come here, learn, experience and meet others and really network and be able to provide the resources to the students to say here is what the Marines mean and here is what you can become,” Miller said.
The group is tossed into activities that recruits have to do from walking in formation to listening to drill instructors and shooting an M-16. Rappelling down a 47-foot tower was also part of the drill.
“The things we have learned here this week are immeasurable. How successful they can be coming to the Marine Corps, and being able to also have a college education, move on to be an officer and pick up any job that is out there that they want to do,” said Hubbard High School counselor Traci Hill.
Mahoning County High School teacher Matt Rothbauer said most of the officers have bachelors and masters degrees. “There is a big emphasis on education,” he said.
All of the educators in the program, including Mahoning County High School teacher Brain Palmer, said if given the chance they would take the trip again.
“Marines here know that it is an opportunity of a lifetime to be part of the Marines, to defend and honor your country. I hope that maybe these kids, my students, would be able to see that and want to do it as well,” Palmer said.
While the educators were in South Carolina, they also got to check out the nearby Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. There, they were shown different aircraft, and even got to check out a few up close.
The Marines stationed there talked about their different jobs on base, like firefighting, fixing planes and of course, the pilots.
“Being a pilot in the Marine Corps is a great privilege. I am very glad to do it. I wanted to be a Marine my entire life and then being a pilot was kind of an added benefit. The Marine Corps offered me the chance to fly,” U.S. Marine Corps Pilot Capt. Christopher Collins.
Collins got his wings two years ago. He already has been deployed to the Western Pacific and just recently got back to the base in Beaufort.