Navy Forging Relationships With Middle School Students
by Burrell Parmer, Navy Recruiting Command
May 28, 2021
To forge relationships with young students in Military City USA, members of the Central Texas Chapter of the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) and leadership of Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) San Antonio visited Nimitz Middle School.
The school is named after Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, of Fredericksburg, Texas, who commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet during WWII.
The members were provided the opportunity to address students in the Junior Cadets Program and tour the school, which is the largest middle school in the Northeast Independent School District.
May 20, 2021 - Cmdr. Michael Files, of Austin, Texas, commanding officer of Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) San Antonio and Central Region vice president of the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA), talks with Junior Cadets of Nimitz Middle School. (U.S. Navy photo by Burrell Parmer, NTAG San Antonio Public Affairs)
“The students at Nimitz Middle School are the next generation of leaders,” said Cmdr. Michael Files, of Austin, Texas, NTAG San Antonio commanding and NNOA Central Region vice president. “We want to form a relationship with the school to provide support, encouragement, and mentorship to the cadets and students.”
According to retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert Gonzalez, Junior Cadets instructor, the program started small with an idea from a former principal of the school.
“She hired me to create the program from nonexistence,” said Gonzalez, who served aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) as the fire marshal from 1996 to 1998. “We started out with four classes and it grew each year until the present with seven classes boasting more than 200 students.”
The program is open to all grades within the school and its primary purpose is to teach students leadership.
“Our motto is ‘We Lead with Honor, Courage and Commitment,’ much like the lessons we provide in the military,” Gonzalez continued. “These students grow before our eyes as they learn how to work as a team, irrespective of their individuality. They learn that they can be great at anything they do; they are the future of our military.”
According to retired Fleet Master Chief April Beldo-Lilley, the first female and African-American fleet master chief for Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education, the Navy can be a positive influence in cadets’ decisions to possibly be a part of America’s Navy.
“As current and prior leaders in the Navy, the visit provided us an opportunity to give back to the community by volunteering to make a difference,” said Beldo-Lilley. “By interacting with students, early on, we can plant the seed about the numerous opportunities that the Navy provides.”
Not only were our students enthralled said Gonzalez but the school administration, teachers, and custodians were inspired.
“We teach our students the military way,” said Gonzalez. “We teach them the importance of service to our country, to strive for something bigger than themselves and their own lives. Being connected to a Naval entity brings the lesson home. They need to see our heroes live, and the visit was proof of that as they picked their own guests to give a tour.”
NNOA’s mission is to enhance Sea Service operational readiness by supporting recruiting, professional development, and retention in an effort to achieve a diverse officer corps that reflects the demographics of the nation.
“By visiting with the cadets, we may have planted the seed for a future Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, or Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy to include Naval Academy and Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps graduates.,” said Files. “The Navy may not directly benefit; however, by providing positive role models, the students may be able to take positive attributes back to their families, friends, communities.”
NTAG San Antonio’s area of responsibility includes two Talent Acquisition Onboarding Centers (TAOC) which manage more than 34 Navy Recruiting Stations and Navy Officer Recruiting Stations spread throughout 144,000 square miles of Central and South Texas territory.
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