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Going Above And Beyond: JROTC Instructor Mike Wiley Honored For Excellence And Community Impact
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Master Sgt. Mike Wiley, a JROTC instructor at Monroe County Technical Center, has earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Above and Beyond Award for March, which recognizes excellence and creativity of Mountain State teachers.
Wiley was presented the award by WVPB’s Education Specialist Autumn Meadows during an annual flag retiring ceremony, a service-learning project organized by JROTC at the Monroe County Board of Education. This event partnered with the American Legion and the Vietnam Veterans of America and is a prime example of how Wiley is involved in his community.
Wiley received a monetary award and a signature Blenko Glass blue apple paperweight. The award is sponsored by the West Virginia State Treasurers’ Office, presenter of the SMART529 college savings program in the Mountain State.
Wiley has a vast range of military experience and specialties in his 29 years of service. He joined the West Virginia Army National Guard immediately after graduating high school and retired in 2011. Prior to retiring, Wiley was a recruiter for James Monroe High School and Monroe County Technical Center for nine years. This led to him continuing his work with high school students he was familiar with and building the school’s JROTC program alongside Scott Womack.
As Wiley prepares to retire next year, there are many accomplishments and memories to reflect on, such as the trips the program took, not only in the United States but across the Atlantic. It started as local day trips to places such as Droop Mountain Battlefield, but then the group was invited to march in the D-Day Memorial Parade in St. Mere Eglise, Normandy. This trip was taken twice, the second being the 75th anniversary of D-Day, with an estimated 500,000 people in attendance. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of these students, many of whom had never left West Virginia or flown in a plane. As far as he knows, they are the only JROTC program in West Virginia to make that trip.
Wiley states, “One of the most memorable events for my cadets occurred during that massive parade, when, as we were rounding one of the final turns in the parade route, with our color guard proudly carrying the United States and the West Virginia flags, the crowd spontaneously erupted into a chorus of ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’ The cadets talked about that for months after we came home.”
Not only have the students been to Normandy, but they also led the Parade of Heroes on Veterans Day in Washington D.C., traveled to Jamestown, Yorktown, Williamsburg and Wilmington, North Carolina.
When asked why JROTC is important, Wiley said, “Many people believe JROTC is strictly designed to be an enlistment tool. Nothing is farther from the truth. JROTC is a citizenship and leadership program.”
He said the goals of the program is to prepare students for life after high school, whether it be college, trade school, entering the workforce, or joining the military. Enlistment is not required, nor pushed upon the cadets. They teach the students subjects like history, first aid, leadership, citizenship, geography, land navigation, survival skills, basic financial planning, and life skills. Students who may have started the program quiet or reluctant to interact with others would be standing in the front of the class teaching by their senior year.
Wiley enjoys the impact he has on the lives of his students and being able to give them a place where they get to compete against other schools, take on leadership roles and responsibilities, travel to educational places and experience things that they would not have been able to experience without the program. “I get to create a bond with these students and serve as not only an educator, but as a mentor, counselor and sometimes even as a father figure,” Wiley said.
“When I have a former or current student, or the parents of a student thank me for something that I have done to help that student be successful in life, that just affirms that I am doing what I was intended to do.”
Each month, WVPB has an esteemed panel of judges that select one deserving teacher who goes above and beyond for the students in West Virginia. If you know of a deserving teacher that goes “Above and Beyond,” please click here to nominate them.
The public is invited to join Us & Them podcast host Trey Kay for a deep discussion on journalism and trust in the news media. The event will be held on Sept. 20 at Reynolds Hall on West Virginia University's campus in Morgantown.