Story by Cpl Logan Snyder on 05/23/2017When noncommissioned officers transition to the staff noncommissioned officer ranks, their duties increase. This seminar is designed to provide guidance on those expectations and widen their scope of responsibility. Although the Staff Academy offers a seven-week, resident course where staff sergeants can participate day-in and day-out, the seminar provides a few added conveniences for those who choose to stay close to home when training.
"The seminar benefits both the Marine and their command by giving them the option to complete Career Course without having to attend an academy," said Gunnery Sgt. Joshua McLeod, lead instructor, Career Course Seminar 2-17, Hampton Roads area. "When commands can't afford to lose their Marine for seven weeks at a time or the Marine can't leave home due to other circumstances, they can attend this course and get the training they need."
Staff sergeants who attend this course cover many topics through online study and classroom discussions. The curriculum includes leadership and ethics, warfighting, and administration and communications.
The online training is complemented by weekly, three-hour sessions that students spend with their instructor at a designated site. In the classroom, they participate in lessons and open discussion. Marines of all ranks have the responsibility to educate themselves as explained in the 37th Commandant's Planning Guidance.
"I learned a lot about different perspectives people have in the seminar; what works and what doesn't for other staff noncommissioned officers," said Staff Sgt. Brett Goldizen, assistant operations chief, Training Company, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment.
The seminar's syllabus is identical to that used at Staff Academy. The main difference is the size of the class and the amount of time students have with the instructor. In this seminar, it's the responsibility of the student to manage their work load with the seminar requirements. Passing or failing is determined by the effort they devote to their work.
"When I attended the resident corporal's course, that was my only focus," said Goldizen. "Here, I still have my normal job it's on me to do the reading, homework and attend the seminar."
The students aren't the only ones who go to work and attend the course simultaneously. McLeod has instructed several seminars over the last year. As an instructor, he must dedicate time in the classroom as well as personal time to evaluate their assignments and prepare for the discussions. According to Mcleod, observing the transformation of these young staff noncommissioned officers is worth it.
"After spending 15 weeks with these Marines, you feel proud seeing the changes they make, the relationships they form," said McLeod. "Having a direct, positive impact on them is such a good feeling. I'm proud when they graduate."
Training and readiness are keys to the success of the Marine Corps. For the Marines who graduated this course, they are now better prepared to take that next step in their career as well as lead and mentor the future leaders of the Corps.