FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –
At the New England Educator Forum, held at Gillette Stadium on October 3rd, educators from high schools across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire gathered to learn more about what the U.S. Army has to offer their students.
Co-hosted by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education and the Rhode Island Department of Education in coordination with Kraft Sports + Entertainment, the forum provides guidance and direction for young men and women seeking career and educational opportunities for personal growth and development. It was an opportunity to present the Army as one more option for them to consider.
Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland, Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, was the keynote speaker and actively engaged the educators in attendance. He opened up the conversation about options for students and mentorship in guiding students on a pathway to success. "To build the Army, to build your Army, not our Army, as citizens of our nation, it's your Army. And to build that Army so its representative of all of America."
The panel of speakers focused on themes, including West Point admissions, ROTC, medical, National Guard scholarships, Army service, and JROTC programs.
Lt. Col. Monroe, New England Recruiting Battalion Commander, spoke about her own Army story and why the Army tagline "Be All You Can Be" resonates today. "This generation wants to feel included, accepted, and that they are making a difference. Be All You Can Be, to me, represents possibilities."
"National security belongs to all of us," Monroe said. "And your Army needs your help. I'm here today to ask you to ask yourself what you can do, in your capacity, to provide students with access to the information, access to learning more about the opportunities that exist in the Army today. I'm asking you to have the conversations. What can you provide students with the support of the guidance department, of the school, and of the community, to show them that their decision to serve is one that is acknowledged- just as college selection is, and that it is respected and valued."
A robust Q&A session with engagement from educators, commanders, and Recruiters followed the lineup of speakers. Questions ranged from the pathway to citizenship for green card holders, how schools can dispel myths about the Army, and how individual schools incorporate soldiers and veterans into classroom engagement.
"I'm a former administrator, now a school counselor, and I came last year too," said Alexander MacLeod from Ponaganset High School in Rhode Island. "I think we need to get more people informed so they can continue to share this information with their students. If students don't know there are opportunities available, then they are limited, and their ceiling is lowered."
After lunch, educators mingled and visited tables to engage and learn more about providing information to their students on opportunities and benefits available in the U.S. Army.
Phil DeRosa, assistant principal of Nashua South High School in New Hampshire, took the battalion educator tour to Ft. Liberty, formerly Ft. Bragg, in April. DeRosa came to the forum to learn more and share with his students.
"It's interesting to see what other schools are doing and how they are getting people in to talk with students," DeRosa said. "What path other schools used to start? We have recruiters come to our college fairs, but we could also invite them to open house nights for parents and financial aid nights. I came here with our school counselor, and it's about offering more options to students. There's no reason to close the doors for options to kids. So many kids just don't know what they want to do. This information is an eye opener."
"It's not just having recruiters at table setups. It's about getting them in creatively," said Melissa St. Plerre, Coop coordinator for Durfee High School for Career and Tech Education. "Learning about the military provides kids with an opportunity to develop a plan and to understand the benefits," St. Plerre continued. "I appreciated learning about the career opportunities that exist. These programs will set students up for educational success. The military is a multi-faceted entry point for a successful future. It's about finding unique ways of engaging with inner city kids who may be afraid of law and who don't see themselves in the role of being the hero."
As Monroe stated in her remarks, "There are so many ways that you can personally make a difference to open your students up to the possibilities of military service, and we welcome these conversations."