A day to demonstrate the servant leadership of Citadel cadets

Cadets departing to volunteer on

As seen on the Charleston County School District website

Once a year, cadets at The Citadel trade classes for community service. Servant leadership through community service is integral to the college’s mission of developing cadets into principled leaders.

Most recently, cadets participated in Leadership Day on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, by visiting nearly 20 schools in Charleston County School District (CCSD). 

Cadets, faculty, and staff focused on leadership learning and volunteering, with the assistance of Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan. The Vietnam War veteran, who taught high school both before and after his time in the service, helped to kick off this year’s Leadership Day with a presentation to freshmen at Burke High School.

McCloughan, a life-long coach and educator from Bangor, MI, received the Medal of Honor in 2017 for actions as a medic drafted to serve in Vietnam. He told Burke students that if they wanted to show thanks and appreciation to those who died for their freedom, they should live their lives properly.

“I hope these students left this auditorium today knowing they can make it to the next day if they face it with courage and commitment,” said McCloughan.

Sgt. 1st Class Jerome Vanderhorst, Burke’s JRTOC Director, described the visit as a world-class experience for his JROTC students.

 “He told them how important it is to be prepared to be exposed to adversity,” said Vanderhorst. “It is so important that my students learn and understand the life lessons men like Mr. McCloughan can share with them. We teach passion and purpose. My students are learning that leadership will carry you through all walks of life.” 

Over 825 Citadel cadets worked with students of all ages teaching curriculum focused on heroism. Six education major cadets visited at 75 Calhoun as a part of their senior seminar, too.

Cadets who visited Tiffany Edwards’ ELA class at Simmons-Pinckney Middle School worked with students on identifying who their hero was and why it’s important to notice and recognize everyday heroes.

Citadel Freshman Steven Valentine is a chemistry major. He said that participating in Leadership Day is a great way for the cadets what leaders are and what an everyday hero looks like.

“I hope our visit to the school will impact their lives in some way,” said Valentine.

Young students at James Simons Elementary School came dressed in their favorite “super” hero costumes. But after working with cadets to learn the meaning of a true hero, they were quick to recognize their parents, other family members, and even their pets as their hero 

Primary Montessori teacher Rene Souther said the students at James Simons see the cadets daily as they pass the building and wave. Souther said their message of leadership ties into the school’s theme.

“The students look up to these cadets and probably now even more so,” said Souther. “I overheard their conversations today with my students and they were encouraging and interactive. It was beautiful to watch.”

Leadership Day, held every year in October, is just one example of the many ways cadets serve their communities in partnership with CCSD. The District has partnered with The Citadel for Leadership Day since its inception nine years ago.

“The Citadel is grateful for the generosity of CCSD in making it possible for our cadets to volunteer as servant-leaders in the classroom,” said Kim Keelor, Director of Media Relations for The Citadel.