Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Columbia Recruiting Battalion and South Carolina Department of Education Offer Military Career Pathways 101

By Vernetta Garcia and Kim Elchlepp, Columbia Recruiting Battalion

            On Tuesday June 7th, more than 100 South Carolina educators and national observers arrived in Columbia to participate in the second Military Career Pathways (MCP) 101 Course.              
            “The 2010 MCP 101 was a great collaborative initiative between educators and the Army,” said Martha Daniels, Education Specialist for the US Army Recruiting Battalion Columbia. “MCP 2011 was even better and gratifying for all of us who worked to make this event happen.”
            They came to learn how Army/military careers fit into the national education 16 career clusters. The formal goal was to provide educators with a firsthand understanding of military resources, career pathways and benefits.
 “We really strive to expel myths about military service and encourage students to check all of their options about post secondary training and education,” said Kathleen Allen, MCP 101 committee member.
The idea of MCP 101 came from Dr. Ray Davis, Director of Careers & Technology at the South Carolina Department of Education. He noticed that the military was seldom mentioned as a career path for S.C. secondary students and if mentioned, the information was scarce, and the military was seen as a last resort. Davis said this was not only a disservice to the military but to all students.  
This unique course gives educators the opportunity to earn recertification credits. To receive Continuing Education Units, South Carolina Department of Education Credits, or Global Career Development Facilitator Credits, the MCP 101 attendees were required to participate in all the scheduled activities. And, after the event, participants were required to design a project they could implement in their schools during the upcoming school year. 
      On day one, educators gathered at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia, where they were introduced to the process of recruiting and processing Future Soldiers, who enlisted in the US Army.  A major topic during this session was how recruiters and educators can work together to provide the best opportunities for the student.  By organizing a “Soldier’s panel” with actual Recruiters and networking time, both sides were able to bridge the gap between education and military. In his opening remarks, Davis encouraged everyone to “ask lots of questions. We will be working hard for the next three days so you are able to educate and help South Carolina’s students.”
            “My mother was an educator, so this event means a lot to me,” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts, Deputy Commander of the U. S. Army Recruiting Command. “I hope during these next very full three days you will learn more about the skills and educational opportunities offered in the Army.”
            On day two the group headed to Fort Jackson to get a taste of life on base and get a sense of what their students would experience if they were to choose the military route.
 The day began with Drill Sergeants demonstrating team building exercises just like those used during basic training.  These exercises are designed to teach Soldiers how to complete a mission, while making sure no one is left behind. 
            After participating in the team building, the educators got an inside look at the different career tracks and options offered by the Army.  Soldiers like Staff Sergeant Denita Denton, a recent graduate of the Army’s Nursing Program, shared with the educators how the options offered to her by the Army allowed her to follow her dreams.  “The Army has truly been a blessing for me.  It truly has been the driving force that pushed me to finish my education,” Denton said. “Because of the Army I have always had food on the table, clothes on my back and a roof over my head.” 
Other career paths discussed were EMT, pharmacy assistant, veterinarian, and the options available through the Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic School.
Day three, served as a finale to the program.  The morning session provided information about programs in which the education system partners with the military, such as Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp and Reserve Officer Training Corp.
National attendees, Margaret Romer, Deputy Director of the Division of Adult and Technology Education at the US Department of Education and Dr. Pete Magnuson Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) shared reflections and expressed their appreciations.
“I’m going to commit to you to push this model forward. You’ve knocked this out of the park,” said Romer. “This event makes me proud to be an American. This is a great initiative, and I look forward to seeing this go nationwide.”
“We all touch students,” said Magnuson, “The challenge is to take this passion that is here back out to students, parents, business leaders, and the community.”
            It is important that educators know as much as they can about every opportunity available to their students so as to better prepare them for bright futures. 
“I learned so much,” said attendee Charlotte Stalvey. “I thought I already knew a lot about the military, but I learned from the Soldiers and their stories.”
MCP 101 is a major component in making sure those educators can do just that.  With the military and education system working together it only helps the students and Future Soldiers of the United States.

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