The Washoe County School District
Jr ROTC Program
Committed to teaching structure, teamwork and
By LTC Scott Maryott, (USA/Ret)
As students head back to school, every high schooler looks for a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they can hang out with friends and have fun. Whether it be a sports team, the band, the drama department, or some other extracurricular activity, all students look for a place where they feel accepted and appreciated. Our school district has a unique option called JROTC that provides a caring, disciplined environment where every student is treated with dignity and respect. As LTC Nicole Gardner, the senior JROTC teacher at Reno HS puts it, “Our JROTC program is such an amazing experience for students because they not only earn several credits, but it’s truly a family environment.”
The Cadet Brigade Commander (the senior cadet in our school district), Shelby Burton from Wooster High School puts it another way: “JROTC has taught me multiple leadership techniques as well as helped me gain the confidence to voice my opinions, speak publicly, and not be afraid to make mistakes as well as how to learn from them.”
JROTC is a program offered at all 11 comprehensive WCSD high schools and involves more than 2,000 students (60 percent male, 40 percent female). Our school district has eight Army programs, two Navy programs (Reed & Damonte Ranch), and one Air Force program (North Valleys). Our JROTC program educates students on character, student achievement, wellness, leadership, and diversity. JROTC is a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense, Department of Education and the Washoe County School District that aims to produce successful students and citizens, while fostering in each school a more constructive and disciplined learning environment.
Our students who stay in the program for four years earn credits in physical education, health, arts and humanities/CTE, and honors. With the school district’s support, our JROTC programs achieve these outcomes by using a world-class 21st Century, technology driven, student-centered curriculum. The curriculum is based on the principles of performance-based, learner-centered education and promotes development of core abilities: capacity for life-long learning, communication, responsibility for actions and choices, good citizenship, respectful treatment of others, and critical thinking techniques.
The curriculum is facilitated and taught by retired military personnel. These veterans are employed by the schools to teach and mentor, and are role models for our young people. JROTC teacher qualifications are based on military experience, maturity, stability, and leadership acquired over 20 years of service to our nation. The success of JROTC rests largely on the effectiveness of these teachers. As a result all teachers work together as professional colleagues to ensure the success of each cadet within the program. The accomplishment of the JROTC mission is essential in the development of a successful and productive citizen.
One of the highlights of JROTC is service to others. Last year our cadets gave back more than 50,000 hours of community service. As LTC Gardner explains, “The kids love to give back to their community and they love to do it with their friends. It’s just wonderful to watch them pick a project, work as a team and successfully complete something so positive.”
Cadet COL Burton adds, “JROTC spends a great amount of time and effort each year to help the community by organizing events such as the Elks Club Food Drive, the WCSD Run for Education, and collecting money for various charities. Community service is one of my favorite parts of the JROTC experience.”
In addition, historically JROTC students graduate at a higher level, have a lower drop-out rate, and have fewer discipline issues then non-JROTC students. There are some common misconceptions, but JROTC does not recruit for the military and does not teach tactics. JROTC is committed to helping everyone to be successful as we lead our students on their college and career pathway.
JROTC is more than an extracurricular activity; it is a family at school. LTC Gardner puts it this way, “Some students are completely all-in, and participate in every event the program has planned, and some students like to come down to the classroom during lunch and eat with friends. Either way, it’s a great environment for students to grow and learn.”
Cadet COL Burton explains, “Joining JROTC is a benefit to all students because it teaches them structure, teamwork, responsibility for their actions, respect for their nation, and confidence in challenging situations. And just as important, it is fun.”
LTC Scott Maryott retired from the Army with 24 years of service, teaching History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, deploying with TF 1-160thSOAR during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and serving as the Professor of Military Science at the University of Nevada. He is currently the Director of Jr. ROTC programs for the Washoe County School District.