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Joplin Army Recruiters Talking Sweet Deals
Joplin company Army recruiters find new ways to connect with educators and prospects.
Commander Joplin Recruiting Company
The age old notion that recruiters are a sweet talking bunch has been around as long as recruiters have been working within the local communities to find the 1% who are willing to step up to the challenge and serve our nation.
For the past decade recruiters have been filling the ranks with quality individuals in their effort to man the force to support a nation at war. As the U.S. Army Recruiting Command makes the transition to Small Unit Recruiting, SUR, the Joplin Recruiting Company of the Kansas City Recruiting Battalion continues to prove that while recruiters may be known as sweet talkers, it’s really because the U.S. Army has some sweet deals to offer people of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Recruiters in the Joplin Recruiting Company have been challenged by their company commander, Captain Mary Beth Griffin, to think outside the box and use the innovative and adaptive skill sets they’ve honed throughout their military careers to connect with the targeted populace. Recruiters in this company have come up with new ways of penetrating the high school market such as self defense classes, substitute teaching, assisting as athletic coaches, conducting team building exercises and most recently, through cake decorating.
Sgt. First Class Matthew Monroe enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1991 because he wanted to become a chef. After spending seven years in a forward deployed position in Japan on the USS Curts in Yokosuka and on Misawa Air Force Base, he served as a personal chef at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he was formally trained at Johnson and Whales. Monroe never imagined he would one day use his dream and passion of being a chef to connect with high school students and discuss the benefits of serving their country. He left active duty in 2000, to pursue a position as an executive chef at Sycamore Hills Country Club in Fort Wayne, Indiana. However, the very same sweet deals he now shares with 17-24 year olds drew him back into service in 2001 as an active guard reserve recruiter.
Recruiters get to share their Army story every day, and let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy reminiscing over some of their fondest or funniest memories. As recruiters try to educate the populace on educational benefits and job training available with military service, they find there’s nothing magical about being a good recruiter; it’s about finding their audience’s passion and relating to it. When Monroe met Mrs. Jenny Cummings at Central High School in Springfield, Missouri, he knew he’d found an opportunity to share his passion of cooking while also sharing his Army Story.
Cummings feels that by bringing a recruiter into her Culinary Arts Classes she allows the students to interact with a professional with a different perspective than what she brings to the classroom. As well as a new perspective, recruiters throughout the Joplin Company are constantly finding ways to give back to their communities and schools and augmenting teaching staff is just one of those ways. Having a recruiter serve as an additional instructor reduces the student teacher ratio from 30:1 to 15:1; thus ensuring that the classroom experience provided is of a higher quality.
The quality of education within the schools is what ensures recruiters have a quality market to recruit from. As recruiters seek out the individuals who will be most successful in military service they also encounter those who Dr. Lisa Anderson, Central High School’s Assistant Principal, identifies as those students who aren’t college-bound. Anderson feels these students could capitalize on the “huge advantage” of the discipline provided through military training. She says the most important aspect of recruiters in the schools in multiple capacities is that it provides the students with a “real world connection, to see what they want to do career wise and have someone who can share their story”; a focus area for the Central High School staff and faculty.
After 20 years of service to his country, Monroe enjoys interacting with students in this environment and sharing his passion for cooking. “I have always enjoyed being a Chef, and I never saw it turning out this way,” he says. Monroe taught cake decorating to over 300 students in the Culinary Arts Classes at Central High School over a two week period. Donning his white chef coat, he transitioned from intimidating Army recruiter to fellow food lover and the students found it much easier to connect and converse with him.
Nathan Hewett, a senior and teaching assistant for the Culinary Arts class, says having Monroe teach in the class provides not only new techniques but a different style, “I think it’s great (recruiters)
When asked how they feel about having recruiters teach a Culinary Arts class student responses were all very positive. For Connie Atkins, a freshman saxophonist in the Central High School Wind Ensemble, having the recruiters in the school is comforting. Connie grew up around Fort Worth, Texas, due to the fact that her father is serving as an E-7 in the Missouri Army National Guard. Miss Atkins plans on auditioning for the Army Band in 3 years and said that she enjoyed the fact that Monroe didn’t talk about just recruiting, but connected on a personal level through their shared interest in culinary arts.
Sam Stuckey, on the other hand, plans on going to college to be an Architectural Engineer but still enjoyed his time learning from Monroe because it’s “nice to see people who serve our country” and getting to interact with the recruiters was interesting for him. Monroe feels it’s important that the “students and faculty see that the Army has more to offer than just what they see on CNN.” He says when he’s able to spend time in the classroom with the same students a rapport is developed that permits the students to feel comfortable around an Army recruiter.
The level of trust is heightened since the students now view the recruiter as a person, not just someone trying to sweet talk them into enlisting. The faculty and staff at Central High School, among many others, realize that recruiters have a vested interest in the students’ futures and aren’t only interested in trying to get the students to join the Army, but genuinely care about each student’s success. For example, Patricia Silva, a Foreign Exchange student from Portugal, chose to come to the United States for her high schools’ exchange program because she wanted to be immersed in our culture. She says she’s not used to seeing a military presence and feels having the recruiters in the school is important because recruiters represent the country well and “it’s cool the Army has a place for everyone, it’s awesome! It’s such a good opportunity.”
The many opportunities are just what Monroe is sharing when he goes into these classes to talk to the students. Leading classes such as the Culinary arts classes paves the way to gaining access to more classroom presentations with the other teachers and even other schools due to the credibility that is built with the educators. The sweet talk in this case was much more than just that, it was the icing on the cake.