MMI Staffers Conduct Call Campaign to Current CadetsIn conjunction with the remote learning transition at Marion Military Institute (MMI) due to COVID-19, the college responded with an old-fashioned form of communication—a phone call to check on each and every student.
With MMI cadets representing more than 40 U.S. states and territories, college staff would gather information on how students were handling online classes and life under social distancing measures back home.
COL Ed Passmore, USA (Ret.), MMI’s Senior V.P. & Commandant of Cadets, explains the motivation for the campaign: “MMI prides itself in providing a very personal touch for all our cadets. We know them all. Our military model encourages community approaches to problem solving. We didn’t want to lose that connection with our cadets. Additionally, the outreach accomplishes some other goals. We received good feedback from cadets for issues they’ve had getting online. This allows us to either fix an issue on our end or help them overcome a challenge on their end—all with the goal to provide them the best online experience possible. We want to help them stay focused and motivated. Sometimes these are just words of encouragement, but our Academic Success Center and other support staff are still very much engaged with the cadets through tutoring, advising and mentoring. Although they are not on campus, we want to assure our cadets that all the resources that they enjoyed at Marion are still available to them.”
To that end, COL Passmore tasked out 23 callers representing various campus departments, from coaches and Army ROTC cadre to Commandant’s and Advancement staff. Calls began on March 30 and will continue through the end of the semester. By April 7, MMI had gotten in touch with approximately 75% of the student body. The general consensus heard was what cadets miss most: being on campus, their peers and friends, and in-class connections with instructors.
MMI’s Mrs. Jillian Stone summarized her contact with 25 students: “As the Academic Success Specialist, I am constantly meeting with students about their grades and how they are doing in classes. Things have gone a little differently since the quarantine. In this time where people are craving normality and human contact, I have had the pleasure to look at a cadet’s newly bleached head, hear the story of an (almost) hog attack during a turkey hunt, listen to the stress of juggling a new job and family problems, and hopefully, help alleviate some of the complications of facing online courses. During this time it is important to remember, not only classwork and schedules, but to be kind and thoughtful to each other.”
The ROTC department reported on several of their cadets who were, not surprisingly, stepping up to help others during this pandemic. One was recording workout videos to share with battle buddies to stay in shape; two were serving with local EMTs; yet another was working at Amazon on evenings/weekends to support his family.
COL Passmore concludes: “Our minimum goal was to reach out, personally, to each and every cadet during the remaining weeks of the semester. The real results are far more important. The cadets have strongly indicated that the personal touch of this campaign has made them feel connected and valued, which in turn, helps them to keep focused and able to finish the semester strong.”
Lt Col John Raczkowski, USAF (Ret.) of MMI’s Anthony J. Rane Center for Leadership calls cadets from his home office in Prattville.