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Local Educators Get a Real Taste of Marine Boot Camp

Kenowa Hills High School Assistant Principal Jim Smith had to stop thinking like a scholar to determine the quickest way to complete a mission with his group during a boot camp designed for teachers.

They were compelled to use all materials provided during a training session at the Military Corps Educators Workshop to complete the task of placing a fake explosive inside a small building with no roof, he said. “We tried to over-think things,” he said, describing how the simplest answer was to lift someone up and put it in place.

It was a week spent participating in something outside the norm for most administrators and teachers – U.S. Marine boot camp.

Several area educators spent five days immersed in the rigors of military life at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Airs Station Miramar in San Diego, including: Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Tom Reeder completes an obstacle course at the Military Corps Educators Workshop

  • Tom Reeder, Wyoming Public Schools superintendent
  • Maggie Reeder, Byron Center Public Schools School to Career coordinator and Tom’s  wife
  • Scott Van Essen, Kenowa Hills Varsity Football coach
  • Jim Smith, Kenowa Hills High School assistant principal

The journey went from the arrival, when they stood on the historic yellow footprints every Marine stands on before entry into recruit training, to a graduation ceremony. They chose from activities including handling and firing weapons, navigating through obstacle courses, problem-solving to complete missions and taking orders from military personnel.

Perhaps most importantly, they learned about the variety of opportunities available through the military, what basic training is like, and they returned to school prepared to help students interested in the armed forces, said Tom Reeder.

Armed with Advice

Educators are used to guiding students down the path toward college or the workforce, but most don’t have a lot of experience with the military, he said.

“I thought it was a great experience,” he said. “It’s an area I didn’t have a background in. I felt very humbled at how hard they work.”

The group was among 20 educators from Michigan who attended.

While it was a true-to-life session with the rigors of an actual boot camp, they could ask questions, listen to presentations, and watch presentations related to physical conditioning, life in general, weapons, maneuvers, and more training preparations, Reeder said.

Smith said he is now much better informed about what awaits students interested in the military.

“I was impressed with the wide range of opportunities there are for kids in the military, specifically in the Marines.”


12th Marine Corps District Educators Workshop

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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