February 21, 2006
The Charlottesville Newsplex had the opportunity to get an exclusive look at a Marine Corps program, that allowed educators from the Charlottesville area, to witness Marine Corps training firsthand.
Eighty-one teachers, counselors and administrators traveled to Parris Island, South Carolina for an educator's workshop. While the island was scattered with palm trees, and made way for beautiful sunshine, it was no vacation.
Teachers from all across the Commonwealth got a taste of what the United States Marine Corps is all about. The educators took part in a unique workshop designed to educate and inform those in the education community, not target students.
"I came into this entire experience somewhat unsure of what it was all going to look like," said Richard Lilly, a Government Teacher at Charlottesville High School.
The six-year program let educators, like Charlottesville High School teacher Richard Lilly, go head-to-head with drill instructors to draw their own conclusions.
"In the past four years, I've had at least one student each year go into the Marine Corps, so that was quite a bit of an influence on me," added Lilly.
The teachers' unwritten rule was to be a non-believer. The skepticism balanced with education and information about the Marine Corps, allowed the opportunity to get an up-close and personal feel for the few and the proud. It was something they could take back to their classrooms.
"What they require to do what they do is so impressive. It is not something you could really experience even in the ten or fifteen or twenty minutes that we did," said Lilly.
Every year, about 20,000 men east of the Mississippi River go to Parris Island, South Carolina to earn the title of U.S. Marine as well as all female recruits. Men west of the Mississippi go to San Diego, California. The training lasts for 12 weeks.
Lilly and others from Virginia were able to be treated like Marine recruits, firing the M16A2 Service Rifle, running parts of an obstacle course, and facing off as gladiators with pugil sticks.
"It was quite impressive because everything that I did, he was able to respond, react, and basically handle me any way he wanted," said Lilly.
While the teachers felt the state of shock first-hand from training, recruits also felt shock, from the opportunity of eating chow with the visiting teachers.
"Evidently, I'm sitting here eating lunch, with a bunch of really nice people. Somebody thought kind of highly of all this," said Chad Miller, a U.S. Marine Recruit.
But, did the workshop serve its purpose to give teachers a better idea of what Marines do?
"To be able to show pictures and video footage, and to have a real life experience, it gives me a different motivation. It gives me a sense of perspective which I think is most valuable as a teacher," said Lilly.
While Richard Lilly did not actually enlist into the Marine Corps, he did get a keepsake of the experience. It was a small business card acknowledging he survived four minutes of Marine Corps boot camp training.