First female ever to lead DHS JROTC sets high goals for storied program
By Jan Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
The Daleville High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has a long, storied history of excellence and its new senior Army instructor plans to not only continue that greatness but “spark” even more success among the 100-plus cadets as the 2016-2017 school year unfolds.In the state of Alabama, only three females serve JROTC programs as an SAI and retired Col. Teresa Townsend of Enterprise is now one of those, plus she is the first female and the first African-American to serve the Daleville program.Townsend officially took the reins of the program when the city school board formally hired her July 20. She comes in after retired Col. Chris Miller left the program in June and joins retired Sgt. First Class Richard Austin, who joined the JROTC as an instructor in December 2015 after the retirement of long-time instructor retired CW4 Joe Guthrie.It was Austin, in fact, that happened to see Townsend at a recent JROTC leadership training, that told her of the open position at DHS and asked her to consider applying. The two had served together in active duty twice before, but had not had any contact in more than a decade. Townsend had been serving as a JROTC instructor at George Washington Carver High School in Birmingham.Townsend was commissioned as an officer in 1985 through Tuskegee University’s Army ROTC program. She served in the Army—both active and in reserves— for 30 years. In addition to her military service, she earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Tuskegee, a master’s from Alabama A & M and a master’s level certification in educational leadership from Troy University. In the 1990s, Townsend taught English at Enterprise High School, from which she was also graduated from and participated as a drill team member of the Belles.“Daleville High School is honored to welcome Col. Teresa Townsend to our faculty and staff as the new SAI in the JROTC Program,” said Jan Smith, Career Technical Administrator with DHS. “She comes to us after having retired from a successful career in the Army. Her background and education stood out among other candidates for the job as being one that has a passion for the successful education of our students through incorporating real world experiences mixed with the knowledge and understanding that academics precedes a successful career.”“I grew up in Enterprise...It was always Enterprise and Daleville (JROTC programs), so I understand where I am. I understand the importance of the program, not just to the school, but to the community,” said Townsend. “I appreciate so much where I am and this opportunity because the opportunity to be in one of these programs is really a once in a lifetime chance.”Recognizing the major award winning rifle team at DHS, Townsend wants to continue to see that program flourish and succeed. She also wants other teams—Drill, Color Guard, Physical Training—to continue and grow in excellence as well. Austin will take over Rifle Team training while she will personally lead the team that she is most passionate about—Drill.“I haven’t heard a whole lot of talk about the Drill Team. My passion is the Drill team,” she said. “That’s one of the things I hope to do, to re-ignite the passion for the Drill team.”Townsend also hopes to promote the academic parts of JROTC by participating in the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl.“It’s basically an online competition, nationwide, where students go online and answer ACT-type questions for the Academic Bowl. The Leadership Bowl has questions about the JROTC,” she said. “There are basically three rounds (with the third being for a national championship). There are some smart kids here. It’s too easy to participate for us not to participate in this.”Since its inception in 1971, the DHS JROTC "Warhawk Battalion" has earned the title of Honor Unit with Distinction over 90 percent of that time. The program consists of an Armed Drill Team, Unarmed Drill Team, Color Guard, Physical Training Team and Rifle Team. The Rifle Team has won 38 State Championships, two Army JROTC National Championships and a slew of other awards all over the region and country.