Ret. Marine picked to lead Robert Smalls military academy

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A retired U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant has been selected by Robert Smalls Middle School to lead its new military academy program.
Since retiring from the Marine Corps in 1995, Gunnery Sgt. Francisco Gamez has worked as a high school Naval Junior ROTC instructor in Houston, Miami, and for the past 12 years at Wade Hampton High School in Hampton County.
During his 20-year career in the Corps, Gamez was stationed at various locations around the world, from Parris Island and Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Korea, the Philippines and Japan.  He participated in the U.S. military action in Panama in 1990, as well as in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991.
“The tremendous success of Battery Creek High’s JROTC and academic programs has generated energy for the new military academy at Robert Smalls Middle School,” said Superintendent Valerie Truesdale. “The staffs at both schools are enthusiastic about their partnership with the Corps, and I’m sure they’re excited about having Gunnery Sgt. Gamez come on board.”
Aimed at developing leadership skills and personal discipline, the new academy will be a partnership involving the middle school and the nationally recognized JROTC program at Battery Creek High School. Any rising seventh- or eighth-grader in Beaufort County will be eligible to attend when the new school year begins in August, and more than 100 students are already enrolled.
The new academy will carry no additional costs for the school district, and the uniforms will be donated by community partners.
Robert Smalls Principal Denise Smith said that a key component of the new academy will be to help students understand the relationship between effort and success.
At least one grade-level team will be dedicated to students attending the military academy at Robert Smalls, Smith said. This will create a cluster of teachers and students to focus on thematic units that teach reading and math skills through a military science, technology and engineering lens.
Smith emphasized that the new middle school military academy is a leadership-building program and not a military recruiting program.  She added that leadership skills are in high demand in virtually all career opportunities.

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