Not recruiting soldiers, building better citizens

by | Aug 2022

WHETHER IT seems this way or not, students desire to be inspired. They want to see someone come alive before them with passionate and contagious energy. Students like to be included and involved. They want to feel like they have some sort of control, or at the very least, ownership in their studies. Furthermore, they need to feel safe and cared for so that their learning progress isn’t threatened. When students feel comfortable, they are more likely to relax, disarm anxiety, and focus on the subject before them rather than becoming distracted. Luckily, students involved in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFJ ROTC) at Coffee County Central High School and Raider Academy experience all of these things and more from their instructors, Carl Hirschel and Pat Lazarus.

Most people, when they think of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs, immediately think the teachers in the school are working a side angle trying to recruit individuals to military service. However, that couldn’t be any further than the truth for Hirschel. Neither he nor his co-teacher, Lazarus, has any ulterior motives up their sleeve. Recruiting is not even a part of their job description. Hirschel said, “We are specifically told that recruiting is not our job. Our job is to turn out good people.” Even with the Air Force paying for half of their salaries and the school district paying the other half. Hirschel shared, “My immediate bosses are within the school district. I’m a school district employee first and foremost. In fact, I haven’t had anybody go to the Air Force yet, and I’ve been here for four years.”

Being free from any recruiting quota obliterates any pressure that could have easily settled on Hirschel or his counterpart’s shoulders. More importantly, having no recruiting goals removes any pressure or confusion for students. Students can rest assured knowing their teachers, Hirschel and Lazarus, are there because they genuinely care about them and desire to bolster them up to be all they can be. In fact, it should give students more confidence to know that Hirschel has always had teaching on his mind. He comes from a long line of educators within his family. So when Hirschel was active in the Air Force he always said that he would like to teach during his next season of life. Fast forward a few years and a few miles, and here he is in our community instructing our local ROTC program.

The intent of the ROTC program itself is to enhance the development of one’s personal potential. Coincidingly, the ROTC teaching team has expressed a desire to pour life, wisdom, and practical knowledge into their students. Hirschel shared, “Our curriculum can cover anything from insurance to leadership, ethics, politics, voting, current events, and personal finances. We also teach about aeronautics, the history of air power, and cover people like the Wright Brothers as well as those things you would expect from a historical standpoint.” Though the program is geared towards creating more productive and educated members of society, students still have the opportunity to learn relevant military skills such as marching, drill commands, physical fitness exercises, and more.

When asked how the community could support Hirschel and the ROTC program, Hirschel shared their aspirations of building a new structure. He said, “We’re trying to save money for a concrete pad and then eventually posts and a roof.” The structure would be a place to march and do fitness workouts during inclement weather. Currently, the group has to use the lunch room if the weather is bad. A long-term goal, if approved through all of the proper channels, would be to have the building double as a pellet rifle range. GN

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