Two Jackson County educators accepted the challenge to attend the Marine Corps Educators Workshop at Parris Island where real recruits go to train.
It was an experience that gave Desiree Clark, North Jackson High School, and Rebecca Roberson, Skyline High School, a new respect for the military.
“Get off my bus!” was the greeting the educators attending the workshop received when they arrived in the early morning hours at the base. This was their first meeting with the drill instructor. There were 26 educators in their group.
Just as the real recruits do, these educators stepped on the yellow footprints to await instruction. The purpose of the workshop is to give educators a glimpse of what the young men go through during their weeks of boot camp.
The educators gain firsthand knowledge of the Marine Corps recruit training, job skills and opportunities, and education benefits available.
Both Clark and Roberson did some extra physical training at a local gym in preparation for the workshop. You do not have to be physically fit to attend the workshop, and the drill instructors do not push the teachers beyond their capabilities. The participation in the physical training is completely voluntary, and the educators could pull out at any time.
The minimum physical requirements for female recruits include being able to do 1 pull-up or 15 push-ups, 44 crunches, and run a 1.5 mile in 15 minutes. It is three pull-ups or 34 push-ups, 44 crunches, and the 1.5 mile run in 13 minutes 30 seconds for the male recruits. Of course, the educators did not have to meet these requirements to attend the workshop.
“This was an eye opener,” said Roberson. “We just got a small dose of what these young men have to endure.”
“This helped us see what an 18 year-old is about to go through when he steps off the bus,” said Clark. “It was an amazing experience.”
The educators had to stay in formation and stop in the sand to do push-ups. They got to watch swimming and the obstacle course. They were able to do a few events on the confidence course.
Several of the recruits sat with them during meals. They were able to talk with them about their experiences. These recruits were near the end of their 13 weeks of training.
The educators met some members of the Marine Corps Band. Three of these members had once been teachers and left that field to join the Marine Corps.
Being determined to participate in the events, both Clark and Roberson took part in rappelling. At the Rapel Tower, they put on the essential gear and rappelled down the wall. They both liked that part.
When asked about the food, they both said it wasn’t bad. The truth was that they were so tired and hungry, they would eat most anything. This is how it feels for the recruits when they get to eat.
One of the things both Clark and Roberson liked was that there was always someone to answer their questions. They were encouraged to ask questions.
Clark said she went to the workshop because she wanted to see with her own eyes how the recruits train.
“I have a better understanding and it gave me a new found respect for our flag and the military,” she said.
“I enjoyed talking to the recruits and hearing about their experiences,” said Roberson. “This was the best and most informative workshop I have attended.”
The educators got to experience Family Day, which is the first contact these young recruits have had with their families since they left for Parris Island. They were very impressed with the graduation ceremony.
Despite the fact that these educators were both physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day, they would absolutely recommend it to their fellow teachers.