Advantages of becoming a Marine

April 18, 2017

Earlier this month, 55 other educators and I had a unique opportunity to spend three days at the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina. About 50 percent of all male Marine recruits and 100 percent of all female recruits receive their Basic Training there. We visited the recruit depot as part of an annual series of Educators Workshops which the Marine Corps offers. We had an amazing amount of access to all facets of the process, including an up-close-and-personal orientation experience showing us a bit of what it’s like at the Yellow Footprints for recruits at the beginning of their training.

It was my third (and probably last) opportunity to visit Parris Island. First a disclaimer: I am NOT objective about this place. IMHO the Marines develop an elite military branch through an intentional, strategic and thorough process. Its recruit training is longer than the other service branches, and it covers physical conditioning and marksmanship more extensively than the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

At the conclusion of the Educators Workshop, I asked my fellow educators for their observations and “lessons learned” with me. Here are a few of their observations:


A Marine recruit records marksmanship scores on a shooting range at MCRD Parris Island.

“The physical demand to become a Marine is real,” says Cory Brady, a teacher in the North Royalton Schools. “Train your body; get on a healthy diet before arriving.” “Get in shape physically,” adds Carol Pluess, LPC, Coordinator of Career and Assessment Services at the University of Akron’s Wayne Campus. “This includes learning how to swim if you don’t know how to do so.”

Another key point – Take advantage of the many educational opportunities which are provided. We learned that Marine recruits can earn up to nine hours of college credit by completing their Basic Training. Additionally, Marines can attend college online or “live” depending upon their duty posts, and study for additional credit toward a degree while on active duty. For some young men and women (and their families) the Marines then offer a very swift pathway to a college degree or a certification (Police, Fire, EMT, etc.) after military service without debt.

There is a third dimension which several of us discussed during the Workshops. College right after high school is NOT for everybody. There are dozens of varying motivations for high school students. Some may want to get into the most selective of colleges or universities and plow head with studying for first a bachelor’s, then an advanced degree.

Others are wired differently. They may not be academically ready yet for college. They may prefer to not pursue college and instead seek technical or professional careers. We met and heard from jet aircraft maintenance personnel who are thrilled about their MOS (jobs) in the Marines and know that their skills can lead to good careers once they leave military service.

aaaa silver door

“Silver doors” which receive Marine recruits at MCRD Parris Island. Only recruits are allowed to enter through these doors to begin their training.

Speaking of jobs, the Marines offer far more options for recruits than many of us realized. We saw plenty of the Parris Island Marine Band during our time in the Educators Workshop. Musicians can enlist in the USMC and continue playing their instruments in a variety of bands. There are also career opportunities for graphic designers, photographers, and other specialty areas.

One final important component which we learned is this: Marine recruits have a drive, an unquenchable determination, admirable distinctions in today’s society. High standards force recruits to achieve more, and they learn to de-emphasize self and focus on teams and team-building, collaboration, and discipline. These are highly desirable attributes on a battlefield , ones which can save many lives. They are also excellent characteristics in the “real” world of companies and organizations where careers begin.

The Few … the Proud … the Marines is much more than just a slogan. It’s real, and it exemplifies what we saw, heard and felt in the recruit process at Parris Island. From the Commanding General on down to the newest recruits – and we spoke with hundreds of Marines and recruits during the workshop – the elan of the Marines is genuine. For young adults who might not have been “tops” in their high school classes with their GPAs or awards, the US Marine Corps is a place where they can be a part of the very best.


Parris Island: Where the Corps makes Marines

March 31, 2017

It was 99 years ago in France when a brigade of U.S. Marines helped a combined U.S.-French force check, then later completely repel, a major German offensive. “The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle,” said General John Pershing, commander of American forces in France, after the battle of Belleau Wood, which helped turned the tide in World War I. (See note below!)

Like their counterparts in other branches of the military, enlistees in the Marine Corps sign a contract to give everything – including their lives – in defense of the U.S. and the Constitution which governs it. Next week I am privileged to be part of a Marine Corps Educators’ Workshop which will take teachers from about 50 schools and colleges to Parris Island to show us how the Corps makes Marines.

In a society today which seems to say that everything is relative, the US Marines remain steadfast in their approach to training new recruits. A sentence from the Parris Island Graduation Ceremony program says it eloquently: “At the very time when a host of factors tend to undermine character development in society, Marines are facing an operational environment that requires stronger character and moral virtue.”

Standard are very high. It’s easier to get into many colleges in the U.S. than to become a Marine. Drug screenings, challenging physical and mental training, and a frank ‘here’s what Recruit Training is like’ strategy removes some applicants from the “pool” of potential Marines.  But there’s a payoff: More than 90 percent of the recruits going to Parris Island now make it through the training process. The intense preparation works.

Parris Island was the site for training of Marines a century ago, and it still has the same purpose today. Candidates sacrifice virtually every comfort for their 13 weeks of Recruit Training. They surrender their cell phones. No Netflix, tablets, or video games. They are in active training from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week for their entire time on Parris Island. Every aspect of their daily lives falls under the constant scrutiny of a squad of drill instructors who have but one goal, a three-word entrance sign to the USMC Recruit Depot: We Make Marines.


marital arts

Martial arts combat is a component of Recruit Training for all seeking to become U.S. Marines.

The physical training (PT) is extremely demanding. Most Marines leave Parris Island about 15-20 pounds lighter than when they arrived due to the intensive PT. They must pass a vigorous Combat Fitness Test (CFT) which requires them to simulate saving a wounded fellow Marine in a realistic battle-type situation. They must also pass a shooting range challenge at seven different distances. Marine recruits spend two weeks mastering marksmanship. We may have remotely-piloted drones and cruise missiles in our arsenal today, but – just as in 1918 – every Marine is first and foremost a rifleman.

That term – rifleman – applies to both women and men at Parris Island. More than 7 percent of today’s U.S. Marine Corps is comprised of women, and female recruits there find the training and education program every bit as challenging as for the guys.



A Marine recruit records where her shot hit the target during firing week at the USMC Recruit Depot, Parris Island.

Lately, the Marine Corps has come under scrutiny due to a scandal involving inappropriate sharing of women military members’ personal photographs. No organization is perfect, including the USMC. However, the NCIS is investigating, and Marines who have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice will be punished. “A true warrior carries himself with a sense of decency and compassion, but is always ready for the fight,” said Major Clark Carpenter of Marine Public Affairs about this scandal. “Those who hide in the dark corners of the internet with a shield of anonymity and purport to be warriors are nothing of the sort — they are nothing more than cowards.”

Major Carpenter is so right. Those who call themselves First to Fight create an indomitable “espirit de corps” which is unmatched in any branch of military service anywhere. The Marine Corps will remove the offenders, right the wrongs, and emerge from this scandal stronger than before.

Little wonder that China, South Korea, and many other nations around the globe call their most elite fighting force marines. They can imitate the name, but not the process, which makes about 180,000 women and men active duty members of the U.S. Marine Corps.

I will blog a few times from Parris Island next week, hoping to provide more information and details about the recruit training process along the way. These posts will aim — perhaps in a very small way — to help elaborate on a quote from Defense Secretary and Marine James Mattis:   “Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.”

It begins at Parris Island.

NOTE: An intercepted German report, which originated from the front at Belleau Wood, compared the Marines’ fighting spirit to dogs owned by the devil, or Devil’s Dogs. That became one of the Corps’ nicknames. “Come on Devil Dogs” is a frequent rallying cry for the Marines.

US Marine Corps website
NY Times, March 6, 2017
Photos are from the U.S. Marine Corps websites


Revere Talking Minutemen, ’16-’17

August 22, 2016

Welcome to speech and debate in 2016-2017, Talking Minutemen. I’m posting this blog primarily for the benefit of those students in speech/debate who were not able to attend our “back to speech and debate” gathering at the Espinals on August 13, or who have joined us since then.

Right now we are looking at as many as 45 FINAL GRAPHICstudents in speech and debate this year. That’s great, and we want to let you know a little about what competition is like, who our coaches and student leaders are, and – a bit more – when we will start practices.

First a bit about me.  This is my ninth year coaching speech and debate and my fourth year with Revere. I was the guy who began the speech and debate program at Brecksville Broadview Heights back in 2008. I have coached dozens of state qualifiers and two students who have competed in the national speech and debate championships, including our president Anthony Pignataro.

If you’ve not done so already, look at a few web sites.  First, here is our web site:

Here is the state’s web site:

Here is the national web site:

You’ll learn a bit about how speech and debate works through viewing these web sites.

Next: We have a terrific set of student leaders for this year. They are:

  • Anthony Pignataro, senior, president and Lincoln Douglas debate
  • Megan Warburton, junior, vice president and Public Forum debate
  • Leah Espinal, junior, vice president and Congressional debate
  • Grace Cao, junior, secretary and Individual Event speaker
  • Melise Williams, sophomore, Individual Event captain
  • Troy Pierson, sophomore, Public Forum debate captain
  • Emily Albert, sophomore, Congressional debate captain

If you attended one of the many speech or debate camps, then we have worked with you and assigned you to a speech or debate category.  If you signed up at Frosh Fest, we are going to begin your 9th grade participation in speech by competing in one of five different individual events: Original Oratory, Declamation, Program Oral Interpretation, Informative Speaking, or International Extemporaneous speaking.

Also, we have FOUR assistant coaches this year.  You will hear more about these later in the academic year, but rest assured that we will have approximately one coach for each 8-9 students who are part of our program. One of my favorite sayings is P-P-P-P-P-P, for proper practice and preparation promotes perfect performance. We will be giving you every opportunity to improve your speaking and debating skills through practice.  Our practice sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings.  Watch for details.

Additionally, we have assistance from a great parent/booster organization, called Revere Speech and Debate Boosters (RSDB for short). They will help us by providing (among other things) judges for speech tournaments.  On average, we need to have one judge for every four students who compete on tournament Saturdays. You will hear more about this soon, but we want you to know that we will be asking each student (parent) to contribute $$$ for judging and to judge a few tournaments.  We will send that information to both you and your parents.

We will also be providing training for parent judges in October – On October 14, 15, and on October 26.  Details forthcoming.

By the way, you might want to share this web site with your parents if/when ask you about how important speech and debate might be to your future:

We do need three things from you. If you are a newcomer (first year in the program) please EMAIL the following to our Secretary Grace Cao, who’s email is:

They are:

  • A parent’s name and email address (with whom our RSDB can communicate)
  • Your cell phone number
  • Then, we need you to circle and save SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22 on your calendar. That is the first speech/debate tournament of the 2016-2017 season.  It is known as the Akron and Canton Districts NOVICE tournament, and it will be held at GlenOak School near Canton.  ALL FIRST YEAR COMPETITORS are encouraged to attend this tournament.

If you are signed up for Debate (Public Forum or Lincoln Douglas), you will be hearing from Anthony or Troy about “Debate School” beginning on September 14. This will be the first of three, one-hour education sessions where we will teach more details about debate and prepare you further for the season. The sessions will be on Wednesday, Sept. 14-21-28.

If you signed up at Frosh Fest, Captain Melise Williams will be in touch with you soon via email. We want to work with you to select an individual event, and begin to have you thinking about that first speech you give.

A couple of final things:

1)      Speech/debate is considered an “academic letter” activity at Revere  If you attend the Novice Tournament plus seven additional tournaments in the course of the you, and you attend practices regularly, you will be eligible to earn an academic “R” for speech/debate this year. So look at our calendar for the season (you can find it on the web site), and circle and save the Saturdays for competition. (Again, look at the calendar on the web site. Basically these are every Saturday beginning at the end of October, except for Holidays, from October 29 through January 28)

2)      Watch for SIGNS.  All returning speech/debate competitors PLUS those who attended summer camps and have committed to speech/debate will have signs up on their lockers soon.  NEWCOMERS – Your sign will go up on your locker as well, after you’ve attended a couple of practices and have committed to speech/debate for Revere.

Below are a few tips for 9th graders who are new to Revere High School, courtesy of our officers and your coach.  BE PREPARED when classes begin on Wednesday, August 24.

TIP 1 — WRITE IT DOWN: Research shows that when you use an assignment book and/or planner and write down your assignments, you have 40 percent better odds of completing them.

 TIP 2 – PRIORITIZE: What’s most important? What’s next in importance?  Always do what’s the most important first in your studies. The test on Friday should receive a lot more time/attention than a 10-point quiz coming up on Monday, for example.

TIP 3 – GET INVOLVED!  There are so many amazing clubs and activities at the high to join. Don’t do nothing.

TIP 4 — DON’T SLACK OFF! All your grades count toward your high school transcript when you apply for a college or university. What you do in your freshman year WILL SHOW UP with  all your other classes on application forms.

Speak With Room-Filling Energy,

Coach K.


August 18, 2015

As a new school year approaches, students are understandably curious about their professors.  Below, in less than 500 words, is a brief “statement of philosophy” which should help you do better both in your course and in your life.  It is six snippets of advice:
john half cropped

  1.  If you’re green, you’re growing. If you are ripe, you’re rotten.  We all need to practice continuous improvement in everything we do. Higher education teaching wasn’t my first profession. I’ve even joked about being an “accidental professor,” going from an adjunct (part-timer) in 2003-2004 and moving up the college professor ladder, slowly, step by step, over the past 12 years. I earned a certificate in college teaching, a second master’s degree, and a wealth of knowledge and experience about how to teach and how to motivate student learning in the past decade.  If a guy who’s nearly 60 can keep learning, you can too.
  2. You need a S.I.P. a self-improvement plan, for all areas of your life. Yes, academics are important.  So is taking care of yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Finances are important. Faith is important. Relationships are important.  So are family members and loved ones.  What’s your strategy to become better in all of these areas?  How do you carry out that strategy?
  3. We all have “other priorities” that can stop or change us.  I was studying for an Ed.D. degree (equivalent of a Ph.D.) at Kent State, but a challenging family issue arose. Now helping out my in-laws, who are about 90 years old and living in our home, is a higher priority.  Priorities — it depends on what’s really important.  In reality, it’s how far we come back AFTER suffering a setback or getting knocked down that really matters.  Watch this:
  4. If you are honest and transparent with me, you’ll never find a more caring professor dedicated to helping you succeed.  My former students have jobs and careers, working at places such as Great Lakes Publishing, WKYC Channel 3, the Cleveland Museum of Art, large public relations agencies, and NBC Universal in Hollywood. They got there through hard work, and through sharing their aspirations with me (and/or other professors).  I’ll go to great lengths to encourage my students and help them do well, if they put forth the effort.
  5. You have been created for something great — greater than you know right now. You want to have all the knowledge and preparation you can so when that opportunity for greatness arrives, you are ready to walk through that door to success.
  6. We ALL need challenges. It’s how we improve.  I’m training right now to run a half-marathon in October. (YES, I have a specific training program and a goal for this event on October 11.)  With God’s blessing, the favor and support of my wife, and some good fortune (meaning no accidents or setbacks), I’m confident I can complete the course and rise to the challenge.  I’ll be a better and healthier person as a result.  Challenge yourself this year.  You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of achieving.  “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

$60 million building boom in Broadview Heights

May 28, 2015

_20150527_171506Lately it seems that you can’t drive very far in Broadview Heights without seeing a bulldozer at work or a foundation being poured. There’s a good reason why: More than $60 million in new construction (non residential) and at least 10 different projects are underway in Broadview Heights.

Here’s a quick rundown, in words and pictures, of some of the developments. This isn’t comprehensive – it’s just what one person found out by using a smartphone, the Internet, and through some emails.


Contractors for University Hospitals’ new 52,000 square feet outpatient health center and freestanding emergency department are still putting up steel girders. This facility, valued at $28 million, is at the northeast corner of Interstate 77 and Royalton Road, adjacent to the Heritage office building. You can see it as you enter I-77 Northbound.  This health facility should bring a lot of new jobs to Broadview Heights as well. Here’s the link to a news article about it:

NOTE – Just east of Bob Evans, construction is underway on an extension of Treeworth Blvd which will provide access to a similar medical facility which MetroHealth Medical Center is constructing in Brecksville, just below the southwest corner of Interstate 77 and Royalton Road.


IMG_20150418_111631800More than $1 million went into the construction of these two new restaurants on Royalton Road.  Bob Evans has been open since March, with Chipotle opening its doors in late May. The parking lots seems always full, especially at the lunch and dinner hours. Don’t be surprised if a third restaurant finds its way here also – there’s a vacant spot next to the Chipotle.


Petros is constructing new homes in three locations in Broadview Heights.  This is a picture of the model home in Town Centre Village, just east of Broadview Road and just south of Royalton Road.  Below is a link to their web site with details.IMG_20150418_100742741_HDR

Additionally, Petros also has new home construction at Wiltshire (off Edgerton Road) and at Bella Terra off Wallings Road. Petros Homes’ headquarters is also in Broadview Heights, by the way.


When completed later this year, Danbury Woods senior living will be a 101-unit complex   90,000 square feet with a mixture of independent living, assisted living, and memory care.  This is a IMG_20150418_100542954project costing nearly $13 million.  The two-story, V-shaped building takes up about six acres at the corner of Broadview and Akins Roads.  Here is a link with more information:


With its headquarters in Broadview Heights Ohio Caterpillar is the factory-authorized Caterpillar dealer for the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It has more than 1,100 employees at its various facilities. Ohio Cat is in Phase II of the _20150418_151042expansion of its corporate headquarters at Royalton Road and Taylor Avenue, a project costing $17.8 million.

Here are more details:


Work is in the preliminary stages behind City Hall, but by sometime in 2016 Cuyahoga County will have a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) behind City Hall.  Here’s a recent site picture.

According to Cuyahoga County officials, this facility will feature an EOC floor with extensive communications and information display capabilities; a multi-position communications center for the county’s emergency communications systemcceoc bvh (known as CECOMS), which can also serve as a regional dispatch center; a Joint Information Center; officers for the County Office of Emergency Management; a training room; and a storage and maintenance facility. Here is a link to a Cuyahoga County web site with more details:


Drees is building larger single-family homes in the city.  The pictured home is in a development called Brookside Crossing, IMG_20150418_101556384off Victoria Drive. Here’s a link:


Jeffrey Halpert, DPM, and his partners are apparently planning to move their Podiatry of Greater Cleveland practice and offices down a bit on Royalton Road to aIMG_20150527_163129940 new office building, just east of Stoney Run condominiums. This building has a construction cost of about $500,000.  Here’s a link to some information:


This church, which has met at Blossom Hill in Brecksville for the past 19 years, plans to build an 11,160 square foot sanctuary and classrooms on the south side of Royalton Road, just west of Dunkin Donuts. Construction is estimated at $1 _20150527_171546million. The sanctuary will seat 250 people. Community of Hope owns 13 acres at this location.  The new church building is expected to open in 2016. Here’s a link to the story:

Seeking non-profits, causes

February 27, 2015

This semester I’m teaching a class which I helped shape, and which Cuyahoga Community College has offered since 2007.  The class name is Social Media and Blogging.

As part of the class requirements, my students need to develop and carry out a social media campaign for a non-profit group of a social media cause.

It can’t be too extensive (the student will need to complete the campaign in a five-week window), but the student will be responsible for doing the social media aspects for the cause, and also for writing a couple of blogs about it.

So, right now, I’m actively seeking non-profits and causes who would like some student help in late March and April.

No charge.  Your student has already received education and some practice on blogging and social media techniques by the time they assist you.  The “outline” for this activity is attached/below.

Interested?  Email me at or call my office at 216-987-5040.  If we can work out details, I’ll put a brief description together for the students and try to “match up” causes/campaigns with students.