Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ye Olde Cobbler Shoppe

Did you know there's a cobbler shop at USNA?

One of the academy’s hidden jewels with decades of service repairing boots, shoes, purses, and other leather items, the Naval Academy Cobbler Shop provides professional cobbler services to the Brigade of Midshipmen and USNA faculty and staff.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Naval Academy Mids Mentor Middle School Girls

Post by Jessica Clark. USNA Public Affairs

Two midshipmen had a unique opportunity to apply the leadership skills they’ve been taught as part of the U.S. Naval Academy curriculum while giving back to a community in need.
Midshipmen 1st Class Paige Rutkoske and Alyssa Randell spent nearly three weeks at the Sisters Academy in Asbury Park, N.J., teaching and mentoring sixth-grade girls.
Sisters Academy is a program of Mercy Center dedicated to educating girls in an academically challenging and disciplined learning environment. The goal of the program is to provide girls from economically challenged families access to private high school and college education.
A Naval Academy alumnus contacted the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association to see if he could get midshipmen to come to the school to help mentor the students and "provide role models that they're not seeing in their everyday lives," said Lt. Erica Reid-Dixon of the academy’s Leadership, Development and Research Department.
With the guidance of Naval Academy faculty and staff, the midshipmen developed a lesson plan that encompassed science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects as well as leadership instruction in which the students learned about group dynamics, communication and team building.
Each day, the midshipmen were required to reflect on how the experience helped shape their own leadership development and report to Reid-Dixon on their progress toward the goals they defined prior to the trip to New Jersey.
“I learned how to take control and get others to follow my instructions while keeping them engaged,” said Rutkoske. “I learned a lot about my leadership style and how I work with others.”
The midshipmen also had goals for how they wanted to directly impact the students.
“I wanted to see the students think outside the box on ways to reach a solution or think about a problem,” said Rutkoske. “They all met and exceeded my expectations.”
“The Sisters Academy students have succeeded in so many ways, despite the disadvantages of their backgrounds, and a lot of that has to do with the leadership of the school. Now the midshipmen are part of that process,” said Reid-Dixon.
Rutkoske hopes the program will continue to be an option for midshipmen summer training.
“It has been a valuable aspect of development in becoming a more successful leader. It helped with time management, working on the fly, rolling with the punches and tailoring how I wanted to teach someone based on their personality,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to other midshipmen.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Naval Academy Workshops Help Enhance Education in U.S., International Schools

Post by MC2 Jonathan Correa, USNA Public Affairs

The U.S. Naval Academy recently hosted workshops for more than 115 educators from across the U.S. and international schools to help enhance their curricula in science, technology, engineering, math and languages.
In the month of July alone, the academy offered three separate programs for educators: the Set Sail program for STEM fields attended by 90 teachers, the Maury Project for oceanography and meteorology attended by 24 teachers, and in collaboration with Anne Arundel Community College the StarTalk program for education in Arabic attended by 8 teachers and 48 students.
Teachers attending the Set Sail program at USNA
Photo courtesy of the USNA STEM Office 
 “The number of experiences and training we offer to educators signifies USNA’s willingness to be a participant in the national effort to bolster important areas in education through sharing our excellent resources and talented faculty and staff,” said Naval Academy Vice Academic Dean Boyd Waite.
These workshops each equip teachers with training and teaching materials that can be used in their classrooms. Educators participate in lectures and tutorials, research cruises and field trips, and hands-on exercises in the Naval Academy’s world-class laboratories and classrooms.
As many schools have become more lecture-based, the Set Sail program is designed to encourage educators to return to more hands-on teaching methods.
“We teach the educators the same way we teach our midshipmen,” said Naval Academy chemistry Professor Sarah Durkin of the USNA STEM office. “We teach them laboratory-based teaching techniques.” 
This workshop gives teachers the opportunity to discover, explore and test ideas, and, most importantly, learn how science and technology impact real-world research and challenges. The teachers participate in projects using underwater robotics, forensic chemistry including the study of corrosion, and projects using the hydro lab, and bioterrorism labs, among others.
Teachers attending the Set Sail program at USNA
Photo courtesy of the USNA STEM Office 
One of Set Sail’s design challenges was comprised of building a maze with limited resources including wood blocks and glue. Teachers used engineering design techniques and principles of levers to get marbles from one end of the maze to the finish end in order to complete the task. Teachers also participated in a bioterrorism lab simulating a smallpox breakout. Each teacher was given a container replicating smallpox but only one container is actually “affected” with the virus. Each teacher then had to share their sample with three other teachers, which demonstrated the spread of the disease.

The Maury program also focuses on experiences that give educators the opportunity to discover new ways in which science and technology impact real-world research and challenges.
This summer’s 21st annual Maury Project focuses on the physical foundations of oceanography and includes intensive training sessions comprised of lectures, tutorials, seminars, research cruises, hands-on laboratory exercises, and field trips. Seven laboratories located in the USNA Oceanography Department and a fully-equipped 108-foot oceanographic research vessel providing teachers with a multitude of hands-on training opportunities.
“The Maury Project promotes minority participation in science through teacher enhancement,” said Dr. David Smith, retired professor and former chairman of the Naval Academy oceanography department. “The goal is to train as many teachers as possible who are members of groups underrepresented in the sciences and/or teach significant numbers of pre-college students from underrepresented groups.”
Smith co-directed the Maury Project with Dr. Jim Brey, education director of the American Meteorological Society.
Teachers attending the Set Sail program at USNA
Photo courtesy of the USNA STEM Office 
In addition to STEM related areas, the Naval Academy  also provides educators and students foreign language and cultural education.
The StarTalk program is a government initiative to increase the number of Americans learning critical need languages and teachers start with a ten-day online course followed by two weeks of face-to-face training and planning at the Naval Academy. Directly after this training, high school and college students arrive to the Naval Academy for a four-week novice and novice/mid-level Arabic course. This gives the teachers a chance to use their new teaching skills and enables them to improve their own teaching techniques.
The program at the Naval Academy focuses on Arabic and offers students and educators an elaborate cultural education through developing language and writing skills, as well as a deep cultural understanding through music, arts, and sports participation.
 “Some of the topics we offer at the Naval Academy are American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) standards, differentiated teaching, student-centered learning, brain-based learning, comprehensible input, relevance and student motivation, and small group learning,” said Clarissa Burt, Naval Academy professor of Arabic language, literature and culture.
These programs provide educators’ with tools they can use in their own classrooms and pass on to their peers to help further enhance the curricula offered in their home school districts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Midshipmen Build Bridges Across the Pacific

Post by Professor Lee Pennington

This summer four midshipmen spent two weeks in Tokyo for a faculty-led cultural immersion opportunity sponsored by the USNA International Programs Office.
Associate Professor Lee Pennington of the USNA History Department led a Language Proficiency, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awareness (LREC) trip, titled “Warrior Japan: Past, Present, and Future,” that sent midshipmen to cultural and historical sites in and around Tokyo.
Midshipmen in Japan
Photo courtesy of Professor Lee Pennington
Pennington teaches courses on Japanese history, including classes on the Second World War and Japan’s military history.
The four midshipmen – Midshipmen 2nd Class Angela Carandang, Clint Livingston, and Katherine Rodrock and Midshipman 1st Class Alexandra Lundgren – toured attractions ranging from Buddhist temples to high-tech museums, many of which related to Japan’s samurai past or its modern-day experiences with warfare and national defense. In addition, the trip’s participants deepened their understanding of Japanese culture and society as they explored Tokyo from top to bottom – from mastering the city’s labyrinth of subway tunnels to surveying the city from atop the largest tower in the world.
Following a 12-hour flight from Washington, D.C., the midshipmen wrestled with having their internal clocks reset by the 13-hour time difference from the U.S. East Coast. But our intrepid explorers lost no time finding high-quality sushi at rock-bottom prices. Early in the morning on their first day in Japan, they visited the Tsukiji Fish Market for a fresh-from-the-nets sushi breakfast, followed by a visit to the Meiji Shrine (the resting place of Japan’s first modern-day emperor). Then, it was off to Tokyo’s Shibuya district to catch a glimpse of the trend-setting street scene that shapes pop culture all around the world.
Midshipmen in Japan
Photo courtesy of Professor Lee Pennington
The next day, a visit to the Tokyo National Museum helped to set the stage for the midshipmen’s investigation of Japanese culture and history. After the museum and a lunch of chilled noodles, the group made its way to central Tokyo to peer at the Imperial Palace from the Grand Plaza located just inside the inner moat of the former castle compound of Japan’s last shogun. Undaunted – and hungry for the famed sesame-oil tempura of Tokyo’s Asakusa district – the midshipmen trekked to Sensoji, the city’s largest Buddhist temple.
They rounded out the day by visiting the Tokyo Sky Tree Tower where, from 1,200 feet overhead, they marveled over how the most populous metropolitan area in the world spreads outwards to cover the Kanto Plain.
Four days into the trip, the midshipmen traveled south of Tokyo to visit the coastal city of Yokosuka, the homeport of the U.S. 7th Fleet. In Yokosuka, they met up with the members of an LREC trip led by Lt. Cmdr. Masato Murakoshi of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces, a visiting instructor at USNA.
Together, the two groups toured the Japan National Defense Academy, which sits atop a bluff overseeing Yokosuka, and tightened the bonds of trans-Pacific unity while enjoying lunch with the assembled brigade of Japanese cadets.
A highlight of the day in Yokosuka was reuniting with friends from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, who in recent years had spent time in Annapolis as visiting exchange students. When riding the train back to Tokyo, their group made friends and practiced their language skills with a group of giggling junior high students.
The goal of gaining greater insight into the history of Tokyo and of Japan’s samurai past led Pennington and the midshipmen to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, where shamisen players strummed popular tunes of the Edo Period (1600 to 1868) as the group perused displays and models that depicted the everyday life of samurai and other urban residents of Edo (now the city of Tokyo).
The following day, the group returned to the Sensoji Temple to better absorb the energy of Tokyo and join in the merrymaking of the Sanja Matsuri street festival.  Tokyo’s largest annual event, the festival involves parishioners from the city’s numerous small Buddhist temples parading portable shrines in and out of the main gate of the Sensoji Temple. More than one million visitors filled the streets surrounding the temple as the crowds watched the golden shrines being hoisted about on the shoulders of rowdy city dwellers.
Midshipmen in Japan
Photo courtesy of Professor Lee Pennington
Seeking refuge from the bustle of Tokyo, a day trip to the nearby city of Kamakura enabled the midshipmen to learn more about Japan’s feudal past by visiting historical sites associated with the Kamakura shogunate, which governed Japan from 1185 to 1333. The group toured the Engakuji Temple, one of Japan’s oldest Zen temples, which dates to the 13th century.
 A short train ride took the midshipmen to the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a Shinto shrine associated with the Kamakura shoguns, and from there, to the Kotokuin Temple, home of the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Left open to the air after a destructive tidal wave washed away the building that housed it, the Great Buddha has towered over the wooded hills of Kamakura ever since the 16th century.
Midshipmen in Japan
Photo courtesy of Professor Lee Pennington
Back in Tokyo, the midshipmen went to the theater to enjoy an evening of traditional Kabuki plays and dances. A popular entertainment of the Edo Period, Kabuki is one of the world’s oldest forms of theatrical performance still actively practiced. Among the three plays sampled by the group was “The Arrowhead,” in which a warrior displays his prowess by sharpening arrows with bravado before galloping off the stage on horseback.
The midshipmen then visited three memorial sites in Tokyo which allowed them to broaden their understanding of the human consequences of the Second World War. Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery houses the unidentified remains of more than 350,000 servicemen of Japan’s now-defunct Imperial Army and Navy. The Showakan Museum highlighted the homefront experiences of the Japanese public during the war years and narrated the wartime and postwar experiences of disabled Japanese veterans and their families.
Filled with sushi and too-good-to-be-true ramen, the midshipmen departed Japan with a deeper understanding of Japan’s military heritage and its vital role in maintaining peace in East Asia. Visiting Tokyo left trip participants with strengthened language skills and a greater appreciation for the U.S.-Japan alliance. Moreover, the midshipmen gained a new perspective on Japan’s cultural uniqueness and Japanese influences on global culture.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

U.S. Naval Academy Inducts Class of 2018

Summer vacation ended early July 1 for the 1,191 men and women being inducted into the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2018.
Induction Day, or I-Day, marks the beginning of the arduous six-week indoctrination period called Plebe Summer.
More than 17,600 students applied to the Class of 2018. The new class includes 303 women – 25 percent of the incoming class. This represents the largest number of women to be inducted at the Naval Academy since the academy was founded in 1845.

Students selected for the Naval Academy Class of 2018 check in
for Induction Day July 1 in Alumni Hall.
Photo by Gin Kai

Among the new plebes are 13 international students from 12 countries: Cambodia, Cameroon, the Federated States of Micronesia, Georgia, Mexico, Montenegro, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Senegal, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.
Sixty-seven new plebes are prior-enlisted, including 57 Navy sailors and 10 Marines.
During I-Day, the plebes receive uniforms and military haircuts, undergo medical evaluations, learn to render a salute, and complete their registration.

A new plebe gets his military haircut.
Photos by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

They each receive a copy of "Reef Points," a 225-page handbook of information about the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the Naval Academy's history and traditions, their administrative chain of command, and the general orders of a sentry. New midshipmen are required to memorize virtually all of the more than 1,000 facts outlined in the book.

I-Day concludes when the midshipmen take the oath of office in front of their family, friends and new classmates during a ceremony in Tecumseh Court at 6 p.m. After the ceremony, plebes say goodbye to their families who will not see them again until Plebe Parents Weekend, Aug. 7-10.

The Class of 2018 Oath of Office Ceremony
Photo by Gin Kai

With the conclusion of I-Day, Plebe Summer officially begins. During this time, plebes start each day at dawn with mandatory physical training. The remainder of each day is packed with drills and instruction on the military lifestyle and more physical training. The plebes are allotted minimal leisure time.

During these six weeks, the plebes are led and trained by upperclass midshipmen. Instruction includes seamanship, boat handling, navigation and small arms training. This indoctrination period is designed to help plebes develop discipline, honor, character, self-reliance and organization, providing them with the foundation to become midshipmen and successful military leaders.
Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Mike Miller spoke to the upperclass midshipmen leading Plebe Summer June 27 about their responsibilities as leaders of the newest group of midshipmen.
“If we’re doing this right, the goal will be to turn over to the next set the most prepared, the most physically fit, the most motivated group that we can possibly produce. That’s the metric,” said Miller. “How much can we teach them in this short period of time? It’s a lot. And it will change their lives.”

Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Mike Miller speaks to the
upperclass midshipmen who will lead the plebes during Plebe Summer.
Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

Miller urged the first and second class midshipmen to take advantage of what he called the first real opportunity to apply what they have learned about leadership.
“It’s an enormous responsibility,” he said. “It’s good to learn, and it’s good to continue to grow. This is great leadership laboratory we afford you. You should grow as much as they do.”