The sights and sounds of Marine Corps recruit training are tinted to the outside world and only select few are able to take part in the forging of a United States Marine. Educators, whether they realize it or not, are an integral part of guiding their students to a successful life in either the civilian or military world.
At Kenston High School's 2010 commencement ceremony, two school officials shared their experiences and memories gained while attending the 2010 Marine Corps Educator Workshop in January.
The Educator Workshop is designed to give the very men and women who hold such an influential power over their students the opportunity to see first-hand what it takes to become a Marine.
During their four-day trip to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., the Kenston educators and others from the Recruiting Station Cleveland area were given the opportunity to speak with recruits going through training, and participate in some of their physical training. Up until this point, the educators had only known what they heard in movies or from second-hand stories.
"What I expected and what I experienced weren't even close," said Dr. Robert Lee, the school's superintendent. "When we first arrived and met our Drill Instructors, I leaned over to Mrs. Santilli and whispered, 'We're toast!'"
Lee was accompanied by fellow Kenston officials Mrs. Nancy Santilli, principal of the high school, and Mr. Michael Murphey, a guidance counselor with the school.
For these three educators, many parallels could be drawn between the Marine Corps philosophies and core values of honor, courage and commitment.
"By graduation, these values will guide their every action," said Santilli as she addressed the graduating class of more than 200 students. "As Marines and citizens, they will uphold the values of honor, courage and commitment in every situation. This is no different than the core values you have been given in your lives from your families, teachers and the Kenston community."
Lee explained the discipline the recruits learn during their time aboard the Depot. "Whenever a recruit passed us on base, they stopped in their tracks and greeted our group with 'Good morning, ladies. Good morning, gentlemen'," he said.
Even after returning from their trip, these educators have held onto the memories and experiences that left a lasting impression on them personally and professionally.
"For me personally, the experience is a treasured memory," said Santilli. "Professionally, it was a valuable educational experience to share with the students and school community. Through the Educator Workshop, we had a first-hand look at how United States Marines are made."
As a parting gift to the graduates of Kenston High School, Santilli presented each student with a challenge coin modeled from Marine Corps coins she had seen during the workshop. She explained that challenge coins, much like everything else in the Marine Corps, was earned and never given.
"Graduates, we share a great gift of living in a country that gives us freedom to create change, to become involved and to make a difference," concluded Santilli. "Have the courage to move forward. The choices you make today will shape tomorrow."
The Educator Workshop allowed the officials at Kenston High School a better view into the nearly hidden world of the Marine Corps. The experience further opened their eyes and left a positive impact they will pass on to their students for years to come.