Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA --
Marine Corps Base Quantico is known for its contributions and
innovations in war fighting and education.
In keeping with that theme, this year marked a first for Marine Corps
University (MCU) when the first seminar-based Sergeants Course students
graduated at ceremonies held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps May 19.
Taking the Sergeants Course is a requirement for promotion to
staff sergeant. Typically, the Sergeants
Course is a four-week resident course taken at MCU or one of its affiliate
sites located around the world. It is a
classroom- based course, with students attending Monday through Friday from 7
a.m. to 5 p.m. The new seminar-based
option, in which sergeants attend non-resident once weekly classes for 14
weeks, gives noncommissioned officers another option for completing required
Students in the seminar-based course work at their units
during the day and attend class once a week in the evening for three
hours. In addition, the
sergeant-students work throughout the week on assigned homework and participate
in discussions with their peers, officers and junior enlisted throughout the
week, then bring that knowledge back to the classroom and share it with the
other students. All the students
volunteered to participate in the pilot class.
“It went exceptionally well,” said Keith Carroll, course
instructor. ”They leveraged all the
technologies, they would come in week in and week out and tell us about
discussions they had with their officers, staff NCOs, peers and
subordinates. They all conveyed to us
that we provoked critical and innovative thought within them, which is the
intent of the Marine Corps.”
Sergeant-student Adam Lieberman, The Basic School, Combat Instructor
Battalion, said that the seminar-style learning, which included a lot of
self-paced computer-based learning, was ideal to him as he is currently
enrolled in online college courses.
“This is my style of learning and right up my alley,” said
Lieberman, who was also honored as the distinguished graduate of the
course. “It was different. As opposed to being force-fed information
from an instructor the instructor instead served almost like a moderator. It was the peer learning portion that
benefited me greatly because I could talk to different Marines from different
units and MOSs (Military Occupational Specialties). Being able to gauge the experiences of
different people and take that back to my unit immediately and implement it
there and teach my Marines. It helped me greatly, as opposed to having a month
long class and possibly forgetting some of it.”
Sgt. Daniel Heiserman, Marine Corps Intelligence Activity,
agreed that everybody in the unit benefits because the sergeant can come back
immediately and share what they have learned on a weekly basis instead of
waiting until the course is over.
“That’s one of the benefits of having the seminar,” said
Heiserman. “It is effective immediately
and is definitely a good tool for the commander.”
He went on to say that the Marine Corps depends on their
sergeants and with so many responsibilities that come along with the rank, it
is beneficial to all to have the sergeant taking the course while still with
“Having the environment where you are able to go one night a
week in an academic setting, then you are also able to come back and spit that
knowledge out right away instead of having to wait a whole month to impart
those skills and abilities gained during the course is beneficial,” Heiserman
During graduation ceremonies, Sgt. Maj. Gary Smith, an
instructor for the course, gave the sergeants an
inspirational talk, which included
citing the Marine Corps’ dedication to training and education of all Marines.
“You’ve got all these leaders in the room and we are going to
continue to develop you and give you the tools that you need,” Smith said.
“That is our role, that is our responsibility.
But, you also have a responsibility too because you’ve got to bring
something to the table too.”
He went on to say that leaders should have several traits
including confidence, energy, clarity, endurance and humbleness.
“You can see confidence in a leader a mile away. When a leader shows up everybody knows a
leader is present,” Smith said.
Marines must have the energy and the endurance to hang on
those five extra minutes to finish the task at hand, according to Smith. Being able to communicate with clarity is
also important because NCOs must make decisions and then be able to communicate
their thoughts logically and effectively to other Marines.
Perhaps one of the most important points that Smith made was
that Marine leaders must be humble.
“You must stay humble to serve. You must realize that a setback is no more
than taking a step back and then making your comeback. As a leader you must realize that you make
the rank, the rank does not make you,” said Smith.
Faculty and staff
hope that the new delivery method of the class is successful and that it
becomes a permanent part of the curriculum for Professional Military
Education. The class will be evaluated
through student feedback and commander’s input.