Sioux City JROTC program continues to pave the way for student success
For more than half a decade, Lt. Col. Larry Brockshus and Chief Master Sgt. Kathy Roby have been tasked with helping to make high school kids around Siouxland into better students, better citizens and better leaders.
Brockshus and Roby, who previously worked together as instructors in Minnesota, oversee the Sioux City Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps IA-20151 Misty Cadets.
The cadets operate within the district’s Career Academy. While there is a focus on the military (the students wear uniforms and do drill practices for competitions), Roby and Brockshus also teach courses on subjects such as: finance, résumé writing and even astronomy.
“I pondered what career I might want to pursue after the Air Force and teaching was always something I was looking at,” Brockshus said.
According to Roby, she and Brockshus keep a similar schedule to teachers but tend to start back a bit earlier. On top of the teaching and the overseeing practices and going to competitions, Brockshus said they do outreach to the area middle schools and high schools that includes meeting with counselors.
“We do pretty good for recruitment out of the middle schools. We’re usually looking at between 60 and 70 in the middle school,” Roby said. For viability, the program needs to have about 100 recruits. At present, Roby said they’re around 85.
As to who can join, they both said that the requirements aren’t overly strict and demanding: students have to be in high school, they have to wear their uniforms and they have to be within grooming standards.
There aren’t any physical requirement, mental aptitude requirements or stipulations about which schools kids have to be from. Brockshus said that most of the cadets are from the Sioux City Community School District high schools but some hail from Siouxland Christian, Bishop Heelan and Dakota Valley.
Into their 12th year of teaching together, Brockshus and Roby continue to stress the importance of leadership and of preparing for the future.
“I just got an email from a cadet yesterday who said: Since I enrolled in this program, I’ve learned to be a leader,” Roby said. “You have 14 year olds running programs and you just don’t see that in any other place. It’s like a big huge leadership lab.”
Brockshus then said that, despite his and Roby’s decades in the armed forces, they’re happy with any number of things that their students go on to do.
“We’re just trying to help build the skills they need to be successful as adults.”
So every night, Brockshus and Roby are there at 627 Fourth St. in downtown Sioux City working with the kids. Some days the focus is on academic team, some days everyone is planning for Veterans Day ceremonies. Whatever path their kids take, they’re trying to pave the way for success.