Vickers among 40 teachers trained by Marines

Mar. 18, 2014 @ 03:50 PM

Forty educators from the southeast region attended the annual Marine Corps Educators Workshop held at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. from March 4 to March 7.

Parkwood Assistant Principal Brian Gray and Lead Driver’s Education Instructor for Sun Valley and Marvin Ridge Kevin Vickers attended this highly selective event and represented the Columbia recruiting station. Both educators have contact with thousands of Union County high school students every year.

During this four day event, educators were given a brief but thorough hands on introduction to Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island, S.C. with a goal of teaching educators like Gray and Vickers that the Marine Corps can be an excellent career path for many young adults who are not ready for college.

For recruiters in the Union County area, having the Educators Workshop is a great way for them to interact with teachers like Vickers and Gray. Many families today may feel that all branches of our US military only impact students that are considered outcasts. Chief of Staff Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC, Col. Rich Grabowski said, “That’s simply not the case.” Grabowski who entered in 1975 said, “One percent Marines serve the greatest of their generation.” Today’s Marines have become very selective.

When Grabowski addressed educators at the beginning and end of their workshop,he made it clear that he did not need educators to be recruiters. Educators that attended were asked to simply direct interested students to local recruiters after asking them if they have talked with their parents first.

When arriving at Beaufort, SC, educators were briefed and issued camouflaged Gortex jackets, which repelled the cold and rain educators endured during their entire stay. Some days it was as cold as 38 degrees. When the wind blew, it even felt colder. Each morning started at 4:20 AM and ended around 8:00 PM which involved educators being active participants every step of the way.

Memorable events during the four day workshop included: standing on the yellow footprints, marksmanship training, eating lunch with recruits, seeing an F/A-18 Hornet up close, physical training, obstacle courses, having a squad bay tour, pugil stick bouts, viewing drills and ceremonies, and experiencing very loud verbal directions and instructions. US Marine Corps Instructor Darosa was involved in daily operations with the Columbia recruiting station which Vickers and Gray were a part of. Sgt. Rooks was Columbia recruiting station’s personal guide. Rooks was involved with his group from start to finish giving personal insight and recommendations along the way.

Outreach programs involved the base library and church. MCRD Parris Island Library Aide Dannielle Landry said that her branch had about 29,000 collections that ranged from pre-kindergarten to adult. Story times were offered twice a week and involved songs and puppets. Free faxing and printing were offered up to 25 copies. Reading lists were readily available that ranged from professional development to personal enjoyment.

Sgt.Tina Mirles, who has been a Marine for nine years and is the only female recruiter for the Columbia area, said, “We like to read. We like learning.” Mirles was also kind enough to transport Vickers to visit the base library while other educators visited the base Commissary.

While at the base Library, civilian Churon Clark, who is married to a Marine, and her two-year-old daughter Carson were checking out materials. Mrs. Clark said, “They are always helpful and they get materials we need.” Her daughter Carson said, “I like the Blue’s Clues movie and building with castle blocks.”

The Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Chapel was also a place that families, recruits, or Marines could unwind. This sanctuary was beautifully made with a wooden high vaulted ceiling and fourteen magnificent stained glass windows. Parris Island addresses 29 different religions involving Baptist, Catholic, and other Protestant denominations.

The culminating base event of the Marine Corps Educators Workshop at Parris Island involved observing a Recruit Graduation Ceremony. Family, friends, and fellow Marines were in attendance. Before graduation completed, six Marines were sworn in as American citizens from three different continents. When completed participants quickly rushed the new Marines and congratulated them in this giant step of their new life.

As a result of the Marine Corps Educators Workshop held at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC, decision making and leadership skills were enhanced. Search “Parris Island Marine Corps Educators Workshop” on YouTube or Google for more information.