PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — The day of travel is finally in the books. After spending most of the day in transit, educators from the Baton Rouge, La., Montgomery, Ala., Nashville, Tenn., and Atlanta regions gathered in Parris Island for a dinner at Traditions before the real fun begins.
Col. Rick Grabowski, chief of staff at the Parris Island recruit depot, played the role of host Tuesday night and was more than gracious with his time. After welcoming the 53 of us to Parris Island, the "holy ground" of the Marine Corps, Grabowski gave an overview of what we're to expect while we're here. There will be a lot of learning, a lot of fun and plenty of challenges in the days ahead — that much is clear.
"Just remember that the young men and women that come down here and stand on the yellow footprints where you'll stand tomorrow get to do that for 13 straight weeks," he said. "It will be an interesting experience for you, but one you will enjoy."
Grabowski laid out why they invite educators drawing a parallel to his own experience.
He said college was not an option and his guidance counselor was less than thrilled at the thought of sending him off to the Marine Corps.
"He looked at me and said that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard you say," he recalled. "Why would you do that to yourself?"
Grabowski said that, having just come out of the Vietnam War, the military wasn't "highly revered as it is today."
The man was a role model to Grabowski, like a lot of teachers, coaches and guidance counselors are for high school students.
"The reason you're here, is because we want you to be able to help that young man or woman. ... there may be other options out there for these young men and women who may not be destined to go to college or want to go to a trade school," he said. "It's about helping them make better decisions."
Tuesday night was a lot of fun and was relatively laid back. Wednesday doesn't look like it will start the same, with drill sergeants yelling for the educators to get off the busses and onto the yellow footprints. From there, the day will be weave education sessions with physical and mental tests. We're also hopeful to mix with recruits from our respective regions.
Before I sign off for the evening: Want to know more about my travel partner? Checkout today's article on Jeff LaFrance, who is a teacher in the Ocean Springs School District.
That's it for now. Our day gets started at 5 a.m. Check back often for exclusive videos, photos and more content from Parris Island.