Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Tracci Dorgan, S.C. National Guard Public Affairs
MCCORMICK, S.C. – While many teachers are enjoying summer break and taking much-deserved time out of the classroom, one physical education teacher from Calhoun Falls Charter School is still teaching, but this time to Soldiers, and his classroom is a floating bridge.
Staff Sgt. Dewey Rowland Jr., serves in the S.C. National Guard as the section sergeant for the 125th Multi-Role Bridge Company.
During annual training, he worked with his squad of young Soldiers June 18-22, at Clarks Hill Training Site, Plum Branch, S.C. Their mission was to deploy and set up a floating bridge for disaster response training on Lake Strom Thurman.
Rowland said he enjoys sharing his life experiences with his students and uses the skills he learned as a teacher in the classroom with his Soldiers.
“During our training, we built a three-bay, two-ramp, bridge. Our focus was to let the less-experienced Soldiers practice,” said Rowland. “We have several Soldiers fresh out of their initial training.”
Rowland said it was important for the team to feel comfortable and competent in the boats. Training was key because their skills decrease when they don’t practice.
Rowland has been in the Guard for six years and a PE teacher for two years.
“There are many benefits to working in a local charter school,” said Rowland. “I teach some siblings of young Soldiers in my unit. This makes it easy to keep in touch with my Soldiers by talking to their siblings. It really is a small family unit.”
He added the best part of his teaching career was sharing memories and stories with his students, and they are always interested in what he did on drill weekends.
“My students know that I am in the Guard, and they often ask me questions about the military,” said Rowland. “I happily tell them about my experiences and help them obtain knowledge about all services so they can make informed decisions about their future.”
As his squad of Soldiers completed deploying the bridge, the sense of accomplishment was visible on their faces. Rowland said he sees the Guard as a positive way to grow and plan for the future, and that it has a lot to offer Soldiers and their families.
“Overall, my military training has helped with leading and guiding my students,” added Rowland. “I am more confident as a person, and because of my leadership experiences, I am more knowledgeable about what people need. It works the other way too; the more I teach, the better I am at leading. It’s a win-win situation.”