FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY -- Recruiters have a tool at their disposal that can open school doors, get them face-to-face time with educators, and develop rapport.
Initiated during the 2002 school year, the Army program March 2 Success is a free, online, self-paced course designed to improve students' performance on standardized tests and enhance their skills in English, science, technology, engineering and math. The curriculum is provided by Peterson's, a leader in prep test development.
Since its inception, more than 1.7 million people have registered in March 2 Success -- the site currently has almost 63,000 active users.
The program is considered a top outreach tool for recruiters to demonstrate the Army's commitment to helping youth succeed in school and life, regardless of their intent to enlist, said Nichelle Pool, education service specialist, U.S. Army Recruiting Command headquarters.
"The program was developed as a public service to help schools have the students stay in schools and do their best," Pool said. "Not only do we want the cream of the crop, but we want students to stay in school and do well, regardless of whether they enlist. It's our way of giving back and serving the schools. It's like a partnership -- we're in this for the same reason -- to help the students stay in school and do well."
Many recruiters and education service specialists have used the program to open school doors, initiate conversations to build rapport with educators, and assist schools in helping students achieve academic success.
Beginning this fall, two recruiters from the Recruiting Center in Warren, Ohio, will begin assisting teachers at Howland High School during the first two weeks of every semester in registering students with March 2 Success.
Prior to meeting with the school's principal and guidance counselors in December to discuss the program, Center Leader Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Stagnolia said recruiters were allowed little access to students. They could set up a table outside the lunchroom every two weeks, but school officials were hesitant to release information on students.
Now the school has incorporated March 2 Success into its curriculum.
"Recruiters will get face-to-face time with faculty and students, so it's going to humanize the recruiter -- kind of break down that invisible barrier we have -- and show them that we're more human than what they may believe," Stagnolia said. "They didn't understand that we're interested in education, not just enlistment."
Since December, Cleveland Battalion's Education Service Specialist Dawn Kelley-Cowher has been invited to Howland several times to give presentations to teachers and parents about the program.
"At first they were leery, but once we got in there and explained we have these kind of opportunities for students, then they literally just opened the doors," Cowher said. "March 2 Success is one of the things that kind of keeps people's interest, because you're not asking for something in return."
The program is available 24/7 and provides world-class education content in an easy-to-use format designed to accelerate students' learning curve for state assessment testing, SAT and ACT. Peterson's, the content provider, is consistently updating the curriculum to reflect changes on national standardized tests.
March 2 Success can help:
- Improve STEM, verbal, and testing skills
- Taking the ACT/SAT test -- it includes seven free ACT/SAT timed practice tests and video games for raising scores
- Taking state mandated assessment examinations
- Taking college entrance examinations
- Taking a trade school entrance test
- Applying for jobs
- Taking a military entrance test
- Planning and applying for college
- Taking nursing exams and pre-engineering courses
Beginning this school year, the site will include the new "Find an Army Education Specialist" tool to help educators, parents, and mentors find an ESS in their area.
Tony Castillo, USAREC education division chief, believes this tool will help recruiters and ESSes expand their markets by directly connecting with educators, parents and community leaders.
"Historically we have relied on our local ESSes and recruiting force to be proactive in finding and reaching out to educators, parents and other community leaders," he said. "Now, for the first time, these important people have a means to contact the local battalion ESS directly to request presentations and assistance with our March2Success program.
Prior to this tool, educators and parents using March 2 Success had no direct means to contact their local recruiting force.