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One Year of COVID-19: A Testimony to the Strength and Character of our GMC Family

It has been a full year since Georgia Military College, with our 13 college campuses, a College Corps of Cadets and College Athletic program, along with our Preparatory School (grades 3-12), was forced to change how we operate in a way we had never experienced before. Per Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s mandate issued on March 14, 2020, all public schools were ordered to close on March 18, 2020 due to the threat of COVID-19. In anticipation of the global pandemic, GMC formed a COVID Task Force and immediately went to work to make sure GMC would continue to provide quality education for our Students by shifting all instruction to a remote setting.

All GMC and GMC Prep School Students transitioned to remote learning on March 16th and 17th in 2020. What we thought would last only two weeks, lasted much longer. All our faculty and a majority of our staff were forced to work from home and we were not allowed to bring our Students back to campus for the remaining three months of the academic year. No parades, no proms, no end of the year celebrations – it was a tough pill to swallow, as we knew our graduating Students would be missing tradition celebrations and milestones. 

It’s a blessing our leadership had the foresight early on to invest in the tools and resources providing the means to offer remote learning.  Our faculty, guided by their passion for Student success, took the helm and swiftly transitioned to a new mode of learning.  Their unwavering commitment to their Students was critical in making the transition successful.  There were bumps along the way and we learned a lot as an educational community, but in the end we can boast 1,880 college graduates for the 2019-2020 school year and for the Prep school a 100% graduation rate. 

In April, after having successfully transitioned to remote learning our COVID Task Force next took on the mission of planning a safe  return  to in-seat instruction once we were authorized to do so.  As a team, we committed to do whatever it took to put into place the systems to enable GMC to provide for a safe environment on our campuses so we could welcome back our Students, faculty, and staff for in-seat instruction to continue the traditions of GMC we all know and love. 

Our Health Services and Engineering staffs hit the ground running, working to provide supplies to our campuses to keep the campuses clean and healthy. We reworked classroom spaces, implemented new safety measures, and spent considerable funds to secure and install technology to assist us in preventing COVID from being introduced on our campuses; and if it did, to immediately eradicate it.  Most importantly we implemented our “Five Step Program”, focused on personal responsibility along with the application of new technology.

On June 1st when the Governor permitted those who were ready to resume in-seat instruction to do so, we did it immediately.  Our Prep School was the first to welcome back Students to campus for in-seat instruction teaching summer school that began that day. From there we began to phase back in our staff as we also continued to learn more about the virus and how to fight it. The preparation enabled us to continue welcoming our Students back to campus and host every summer program originally planned by our Prep School on the GMC campus. By August, the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year, Students at the Prep School and every GMC campus were back on site for in-seat learning. 

Since then, things have significantly improved across our campuses. We are finally getting closer to what we consider normal at GMC. Our Prep School Fine Arts Department has hosted multiple in-seat theater performances, and our College will do so this month.  We have hosted commissioning ceremonies, graduations, award presentations, and numerous other in person events on campus.  We are also hosting our first in-person parade since this time last year, adjusting our etiquette on when you should wear a mask, and so much more. We can do this because our GMC family is committed to keeping our Students safe. 

For our GMC Board of Trustees, and our GMC Leadership Team, we celebrated this one-year mark last Friday when 70 members of our GMC Prep School faculty and staff received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on our campus. They will receive their second dose next month. This was a pivotal step in our progress, and demonstrates our commitment to return  to normalcy.  The vaccine has now been referred to as the “Sixth Step” in our Five Step Program; it is a game changer.

Over this past year our GMC Family demonstrated one more time what makes GMC so special.  It is the strength and resiliency of our Students, their Parents, our Faculty and Staff, who are all committed to ensuring our Students receive the best education possible during a very challenging time.  It is a real honor to serve with everyone who is making a real difference in the lives of our Students.  Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our Mission to embrace our dual focus on advancing the intellect and developing their Character of our Students, a unique blend exclusive to our institution since its founding in 1879.

LtGen William B. Caldwell IV (USA, Ret)

President, Georgia Military College

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Mary Walker was a doctor during the Civil War. She treated wounded soldiers at field hospitals and later as a surgeon for the War Department. In 1864, she was captured and held as a prisoner of war for four long months. A year after her release, President Andrew Johnson awarded her the nation’s highest military award— the Medal of Honor.

Two years before she died, the medal was rescinded due to her civilian status, but Dr. Walker— knowing her own worth— refused to return it. She hung that symbol of her bravery and sacrifice proudly around her neck and wore it until the day she died.

Sixty years later and long after she was gone, the honor was posthumously restored to her, and she remains the only female ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Doctor Walker is just one among thousands of American female glass breakers. In fact, glass shatters every day in this country as women prove again and again the limitlessness of their potential for achievement and their aptitude for leadership and discovery. That potential has been exhibited for many years at Georgia Military College.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Georgia Military College is proud to remember the women who have made history right here at home, and continue to do so today. Some key dates and achievements among GMC females:

-1979, Roxanne Renner became the first female Cadet battalion Executive Officer
-1984, Kathy Durden Clark became the first High School Battalion Commander
-1999, Jill Gooch Moss became the first Junior College Battalion Commander
-2006, Heather Stacy became the first Regimental Commander.

These women, and countless others since, have shattered the glass ceiling at this institution and continue to catapult GMC forward. These leaders, through tenacity and an unwavering commitment to our core values of duty, honor, and country, proved that GMC is a place where there are no limits to what women can achieve and be recognized for their leadership.

GMC Annual Update

Each year Georgia Military College provides an update to our Governor, and we recently did so at the end of August 2020. Even with the challenges of COVID-19 in the latter part of the year, we had a great one, and are starting the 2020-2021 academic year on the right foot. In our 141st year at Georgia Military College, we’re able to continue offering quality, character-based education in the state of Georgia.

Georgia Military College continues to provide pathways to success at our 14 community college campuses across the state, as well as at Georgia Military Global Online College.

  • GMC offers 28 Associate degree programs and 5 Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree programs.
    • Added 2 new Associate degree programs and a new BAS in Healthcare Management. Pending SACSCOC approval, a BAS degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management will be offered later this academic year.
  • GMC 50 articulation agreements with four-year colleges, and 44 of those provide GMC graduates with guaranteed admission.
  • Over the past 5 years, we have seen a 32% increase in total number of graduates
  • 91% of GMC’s 16,351 students call Georgia home, with GMC serving students from 139 of 159 counties in the state.

Georgia Military College’s 141st Corps of Cadets had a banner year offering military opportunities to U.S. Service Academy Prep Scholars, State Service Scholarship, Early Commissioning Program, Civic Leader, and Football Cadets.

  • 42 Cadet Scholars received appointments to U.S. Service Academies – the most ever.
  • GMC Georgia State Service Scholarship program continued to provide up to 42 new full scholarship awards to recruit and enlist Georgians to serve in either the Georgia Air or Army National Guard.
  • Corps members provided community service in Central Georgia by volunteering 3,258 hours of community service, a 255% increase from the previous year.

Georgia Military College Preparatory School serves students in Baldwin County and surrounding communities in grades 3-12 and continues to excel in meeting the mission of “developing the intellect and elevating the character” of the students we serve.

  • The GMC Prep School Class of 2020 continued its record of 100% high school graduation rate for the 10th consecutive year.
    • 83% of graduates are matriculating to a Georgia post-secondary school this fall and 70% of graduates had the opportunity to do so under Georgia’s HOPE scholarship.
    • As a part of our Dual Enrollment partnership with GMC, 43 of these graduates (80%), enrolled in college classes as a Sophomore, Junior, and/or Senior.
  • GMC Prep’s AP program celebrated its third consecutive year of a 90% or higher pass rate on all AP tests taken with 93% or more of students enrolled in our AP program taking the test.

We are extremely grateful for Governor Kemp’s support of Georgia Military College as we continue to make a difference in the lives of our students, and in our communities.

Patriot Day 2020

Moira Smith was miles away from Ground Zero when the planes hit the World Trade Center, but she went there, and was killed when the South Tower collapsed.  Moira Smith was a police officer, so unlike most people, she went toward the huge plume of smoke and into the burning tower that September day. Officer Moira Smith was one of the 412 who were responding to their fellow citizens’ call for help and in doing so became 9/11 victims.

The first year or so, the news was filled with stories like Moira’s as well as stories of courage and heroism from people who weren’t first responders. From the passengers of Flight 93 who crashed the plane and likely saved the U.S. Capitol or The White House to people inside the towers who just held a stranger’s hand while they went through their last minutes together.

We all promised we would never forget, but with 9/11 now 19 years in our rearview mirror, that promise is getting harder to keep.

Most students at Georgia Military College and across the U.S. who are entering college this year have no memory of September 11, 2001. They weren’t born yet.      

They don’t remember thinking it was just a terrible accident for the 17 minutes between the North Tower being hit and the South Tower being hit.

They don’t remember the towers collapsing.

They don’t remember people desperately searching for their missing loved ones.

They don’t remember seeing reporters on 24-hour news networks burst into tears.

They don’t remember how the whole country put aside our differences and came together as one that day.

They don’t remember the American flag that was raised over the rubble or the flags that went up at homes and businesses across the nation.

We’re reaching the hard part of our pledge to “never forget,” and that’s to instill the meaning of that day in the next generation. Those of us who were here have told the story of where we were and how we experienced that day a thousand times. Most of us couldn’t forget if we tried. But those who weren’t here and have no memory will forget if we let them. It’s up to all of us to use this anniversary that we call Patriots Day to instill in our young people the importance of remembering a day that was unlike any other—a day where the worst of humanity brought out the best of humanity.

A Special Thanks to Teachers

Choose any successful person, and I guarantee you they can name a list of teachers who made it all possible. 

Every great teacher invests considerable time and effort transforming the classroom into the best learning environment for students. Oftentimes with their own personal resources, teachers devise and create a visual environment to engage learning without being distracting. Teachers have an innate ability to know when to push students and when to tread gently. Teachers possess a sixth sense identifying changes in a student’s personality which may point to problems outside the classroom. Every day, teachers commit hours of preparation and summon extraordinary energy to capture and sustain student interest and attention. 

Without in-class experience, students lose much of what makes an outstanding education powerful and lasting. Students lose the availability of face-to-face learning to capture the imagination and to inspire. Lives are changed in classrooms every day, and when schools close their doors to young people, we all lose something — as a community, as an institution and as a nation. Students truly need their teachers. 

Venturing back out into the world in this time of Coronavirus is frightening. Teachers are being asked to be front-line workers, and to those who have accepted the challenge and chosen to reenter the classroom this week, we all offer our sincerest thanks. Your commitment to students and their education as well as your courage to step into the world are inspiring. 

I want you to know Georgia Military College will have your back every step of the way.  

In addition to the precautionary policies and technology we’ve already implemented, we will continue to maintain constant vigilance. As information and knowledge of this virus evolves, our policies and procedures will evolve accordingly. 

Our job each day is to provide our students with the best possible education we can, in the safest possible environment. We are confident we can strike that balance. Every minute of every day, we will strive to maximize your safety as well as each student’s safety, without minimizing your effectiveness as an educator.

We are all looking forward to a safe and fantastic school year. 

Celebrating Independence Day 2020

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence. That day marked the beginning of a new world where people would not be governed by monarchs and despots but by themselves. The Declaration expressed the great ideals of freedom and equality: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our constant dedication to those ideals invoked by Jefferson in the Declaration are the quintessential story of America.  

They were the same ideals invoked by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863. With the country torn in two, he reminded people of those ideals and resolved that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

They were the same ideals invoked by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington D.C. in 1963.  When he saw our country failing to realize those ideals, he reminded us they’re the core of who we are as a society and that we must strive to realize them for every American: “When the architects of our Great Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

Freedom, equality, and self-government are among the greatest gifts the world has been given- they are the gift we celebrate today and every July 4th, and the gift we must never stop striving to preserve!

Happy Independence Day!  

Remembering Rusty Kidd

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, the world lost a great man, Culver “Rusty” Kidd. Rusty was a dear and beloved friend of Georgia Military College (GMC) and all those who have worked there. Since I joined the GMC team, he has been incredibly gracious to all and very engaged in the affairs of the school. His mentorship and guidance have been absolutely invaluable in charting our future. The Milledgeville native grew up around GMC and has long family ties to the institution.

Rusty’s connection to GMC actually pre-dates his own birth, going back to his grandfather, Culver Kidd, Sr., and his father, Senator Culver Kidd, who both attended GMC. Senator Kidd earned his commission at GMC and went on to serve as a Captain of the U.S. Army in World War II. He also helped to make GMC both a private and public institution of higher learning in the Vietnam era. Upon his death in 1994, GMC honored him by relocating all his office furniture to a special room in the GMC Library. The family still has his GMC saber and uniform in a special place on the college.

When Senator Kidd’s mother passed, local businesses along with the Kidd family created a scholarship fund for her and later added his name to the Tillie S. Kidd and Senator Culver Kidd GMC Scholarship fund.

Since 1987, Rusty has been an active supporter of Georgia Military College, contributing to his family’s scholarship, the Prep School Performing Arts, Annual fundraising, Athletics, and Visual Arts Scholarships, as well as the Baugh Barracks Fund and College Cadet Scholarship, and many more. His most notable contribution was made to the Health and Wellness Fund.

In 1999, Rusty suffered a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Despite his physical limitations, Rusty maintained his appreciation for fitness. When Rusty learned of GMC’s plan to build a new Health and Wellness Center for students and faculty, he immediately came forward to help. Not wanting the generous donation to shift attention away from the project itself, Rusty made the gift anonymously. Only recently, with construction of the center well under way, did he agree to make news of the gift public. The building would go on to be named the “Kidd Center,” marking his family’s legacy at GMC forever.

Rusty made a difference in the lives of many students and cadets on the GMC and GMC Prep School campuses. He was at nearly every event and gathering, showing support for the institution he loved so much. He was a dedicated statesman and community leader that worked to improve the lives of those in Milledgeville and Baldwin County, and across the state of Georgia. He has been a pillar of service and friendship to the entire GMC community and he will be greatly missed by all. His legacy will live on at Georgia Military College.

For those who wish, the family requests donations be made to the Senator Culver Kidd and Mrs. Tillie S. Kidd Scholarship Fund at Georgia Military College Foundation, 201 East Greene Street, Milledgeville, GA 31061. To make an online donation to this scholarship, please visit give.gmc.edu.

Memorial Day and Remembering Those That Died for Our Freedom

At the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial,  there are over 170 acres of white Crosses and Stars of David which mark the graves of American soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Europe during World War II. The cross at plot D, row 19, grave 21 bears the name of GMC Junior College class of 1939 graduate LTC William Turner.

LTC Turner, or “Billy” as he was known by friends and family, commanded the First Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He jumped into France with his men on D-Day. On D-Day plus one, his battalion forced a German retreat town of Vierville, but on the way to St. Come du Mont, they encountered heavy enemy resistance. At which point, LTC Turner jumped into a Sherman tank to personally direct the fire.

Thanks to his heroic leadership, the battalion was able to move forward by destroying the German position. Unfortunately, LTC Turner was killed by enemy fire during the battle.  

He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “outstanding leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life.”

Memorial Day exists for Soldiers like him—patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Where would America be without men and women like Billy — a young man from right here in Milledgeville, Georgia who was killed and buried 4,000 miles from his home.  Where would we be without those men and women who served as if America’s future and the freedom of her people depended upon them alone? Without the courage, dedication, and honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom throughout the world, we would be lost.  GMC is proud of Billy’s service, and we will never forget his sacrifice.  This Memorial Day, we remember LTC Turner and all of our nation’s fallen heroes.

National Peace Officers Memorial Day

In 1962, the date May 15 was designated as National Peace Officers Memorial Day, a day to honor and to remember local, state, and federal peace officers nationwide who have died or become disabled while serving others in the line of duty. It is also a time to remember those fallen officers’ families and the many sacrifices they, too, have made.

Law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice include GMC Prep School and Junior College alumnus John Thomas “Sonny” King III (HS ’59, JC ’61), a Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent killed in 1985 while serving an arrest warrant, and Prep School alumnus William “Will” E. Robinson IV (HS ’87), a Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office deputy killed in 1995 while making a traffic stop.

The John Thomas (Sonny) King III Scholarship Fund for GMC Prep School or Junior College students was established in memory of and in honor of King. Among the scholarship’s qualification criteria in order to be awarded includes students whose parent or grandparent was a law enforcement officer in Georgia killed in the line of duty.

The William E. Robinson IV Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to honor the memory of Robinson. The scholarship is awarded to GMC Prep School students from law enforcement families. It also supports the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office C.H.A.M.P.S. Program, a drug and safety awareness program for fifth-graders. The Will Robinson Memorial Run, held for more than 20 years at the GMC-Milledgeville campus, serves as a fundraiser for the scholarship.

For the past two years, the GMC-Milledgeville campus and Preparatory School have honored our area peace officers on May 15 with a morning formation wreath-laying ceremony and a complimentary lunch provided for first responders.

In the past, we have had a fabulous turnout for the lunch that has included public safety personnel from local colleges, the city of Milledgeville, Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, Baldwin County Fire Rescue, and other first responders. Unfortunately, this year, precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have required us to cancel the lunch plans.

GMC still recognized National Peace Officers Memorial Day this year by holding a wreath-laying ceremony at the Grant Parade flag pole at the Milledgeville campus on May 15 at 8:30 a.m. This year, however, it was a social-distancing private event with a Facebook Live broadcast for others to view remotely.

Let’s come together on National Peace Officers Memorial Day virtually via live stream – and in our hearts – to remember and to honor all of the men and women in law enforcement who have made the ultimate sacrifice or suffered permanent disabilities selflessly defending their communities.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week May 4-8, 2020

There isn’t a day, a week, a month, or a year when we don’t appreciate our wonderful and dedicated GMC Prep School teachers, as well as Junior College professors and instructors. From elementary school to college, these educators are invaluable and incredible members of the GMC Family. They are the heart of the institution.

The unexpected circumstances experienced during the coronavirus pandemic have given us even more reasons to be so very thankful for our all our educators who have shown remarkable character and resilience navigating uncharted waters. For more than a month, these dedicated individuals have shown genuine character above all by remaining focused on their commitment to teaching students and student success. No amount of distance could take that away.  For those reasons and many more, Teacher Appreciation Week – May 4 to May 8 – is more special his year.

On behalf of the entire GMC Family, I want to thank our teachers, professors, and instructors for their determination and dedication to working quickly to find ways to adapt their classes in a virtual setting. Despite the chaos and change, they still found fun and innovative ways to connect and to share laughs with their students, such as with Cool T-shirt Spirit Day for seventh graders.

Special people call for special recognition. Throughout Teacher Appreciation Week, please find ways to honor and to thank the educators who have made a difference for their students during the trying and uncertain times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even with social distancing measures in place, there are a variety of ways to show gratitude. It can be as simple as sharing a poem, drawing, video, or quick note of thanks sent via email or posted on social media.

For those who wish to give more, one way would be to support local businesses by purchasing a gift card online for a teacher, professor, or instructor to use at a local restaurant that offers delivery or curbside pick-up. Gift cards can be sent via email or text.

Nowhere was the spirit of “we’re all in this together” more apparent during the remote-learning period of the pandemic than in the character, duty, and honor shown by our teachers, professors, and instructors at GMC. Their devotion made all the difference in helping our Prep School and Junior College students succeed academically despite it all.