Today is the last full day of classes for my students at the US Navy Applied Technology Training school in Great Lakes, Illinois. Many of them will be headed home to visit family for the first time since becoming Sailors. In the short few weeks that I've been this class' instructor, I've grown to care a great deal for them and about them. I find my mind thinking about this happy band often. Despite the fact that many come and go due to the way the curriculum is set up, I am grateful for the time I get to work on thier Navy careers with them and I hope that I'm a small part of what makes thier career successful.
Here's a few things I'll miss over the next few weeks as my students are at home visiting loved-ones:
1. My sleepy-eyed corner. God bless you all for your lack of a sleep schedule. I just can't wait to make you stand up again and take away your chairs because you can't keep your eyes open!
2. My new father, who will be headed home to hold his baby for the first time. Good luck shipmate! I really can't describe for you what that moment was like for me. There is no way to do that and I doubt you'll be able to tell the next guy what it feels like. You're joining a sacred fraternity...those of us who have had to wait to hold our newborns. Soak the little one up and give momma a break!
3. My note-takers...you go slow and write every last detail down, forgetting that we've already told you that you need to learn to do some kind of shorthand or truncation.
4. My hard-working, hard-charging, students who strive for every last GPA point they can get. It doesn't come easy for you, and you celebrate every point you earn. I know how you feel because it isn't easy for me either. My heart has a special place for you. Keep fighting. It will serve you well in the fleet.
5. Finally, for all of you, Merry Christmas. Enjoy your time off and your time with friends and family. Remember the talk we had the other day about being safe and smart on your trip. Remember that you are now sailors...perveyers of destiny. You are leaders of men and women. Your high school buddies will quickly know that you're not the same as you used to be. Be proud of that fact. Be the man (or the woman), and show the flag well. Remember that you represent me and my generation of sailors. For those of you who are not going home, I pray you will find solace this holiday season. Be strong and courageous and be safe.
And come back ready to work hard! Remember our class goals!
Your favorite instructor,