Local teacher experiences boot camp at Parris Island

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Stephanie Bragg started her first day on Parris Island the way thousands of other recruits begin boot camp – on the infamous yellow footprints. Bragg is a history teacher at Pikeview High School in Mercer County and is no stranger to the military. “I come from a family of Veterans. My grandfather served in WWII as did his brother, my great uncle. Most importantly my husband, who is an army veteran. He did 6 years active duty and 2 years in the national guard,” she said.

She was eager to participate in the Marine’s Educator’s Workshop for that very reason. She said, “I love the military, and I love everything about it. I also hope this will help  understand my husband’s experience in the army a little bit better.”

Her experience at boot camp began with arguably the same feeling of fear and anxiety roughly 19,000 recruits will experience this year. Bragg joined dozens of other educators from West Virginia and Michigan to get a taste of what really happens at boot camp.

Captain Oliver David helped organize the workshop. He said, “For these educators, the reason that’s important is because a lot of their young men and women are in high school and at that age when they’re making decisions about what they want to do with their life. And we want to show them that the U.S. Marine Corps is an option. We are competing for your high schoolers to come to us. Just like college, just like the workforce, we want to be looked at.”

The workshop could be compared to putting “boots on the ground” in classrooms across America, which is why Stephanie participated. She said, “As an educator, I feel like I can bring back to my kids my experience here. I feel like I can tell them about the army and the life my husband and I had there; I feel like I can tell them about college; and now I feel like I can give them a new perspective on the Marine Corps.”

The physical training tested  endurance and patience, and on the rifle range, Stephanie even showed she had a tough side. A victory she can’t wait to bring home. “Bragging rights to my students that I shot an M-16,” she boasted.

Boot camp for the educators continued for a week with the confidence course and rappelling off a 50 foot tower. But, it didn’t come close to what actual marines go through, which Stephanie was able to witness first hand.

“The transformation process here in the Marine Corps is just simply amazing. To take a student, who doesn’t have a lot of courage or confidence and transform them. I mean the things they accomplish here, they should take that with them for the rest of their lives. I would encourage any educator or counselor or administrator who has the opportunity to come down here to Parris Island. I’m telling you, you will not regret a single second of it,” she said.

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