As the sun rises over San Diego, educators from Wisconsin are getting a wake up call, courtesy of a Marine Corps drill instructor.
"I didn't really know what to expect going into this week," said Liz Retzlaff, a physical education teacher at Pulaski High School.
Retzlaff is one of about two dozen educators from Wisconsin, getting a firsthand look at life as a Marine recruit at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego.
The experience is part of the Marine Educators Workshop. Educators from across the country visit MCRD San Diego several times a year to learn more about how entering the Marine Corps could benefit their students.
"The Marines are super, super tough but there's also intellect behind absolutely everything that they do," said Becky Bain, a counselor at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay who participated in the workshop.
But these educators aren't just observing. They're participating in day-to-day Marine recruit life, including fitness tests and obstacle courses.
The goal is to give them a better understanding of what their students will experience if they decide to enlist.
"As you look around the communities, and you see leaders, you see educated individuals, you could become that individual through the Marine Corps," said Gunnery Sgt. Derek Kramer, a Marine Corps career recruiter in Green Bay.
Gunnery Sgt. Kramer invited three educators from Northeast Wisconsin to participate in the Educators Workshop.
"I thought it would be really important for me to go on this trip because I have students who ask about the military," said Liz Retzlaff.
Besides learning how she can help her students prepare physically, she was surprised to learn how much mental preparation goes into Marine Corps training.
"I thought it was really great how they put an emphasis on critical thinking as well as the physical side," she said. "So it's not just one or the other, it's all encompassing of mind and body."
Educators were also forced to use those critical thinking and physical skills throughout the week.
Educators participate in a team building exercise at Camp Pendleton.
"They allow people to truly become leaders with who they are naturally," Retzlaff said.
They also learned what educational opportunities could await their students in the Marine Corps.
"If they want to be a lawyer, they can go into the Marines and be a lawyer," said Becky Bain. "If they want to be a doctor, a nurse, even a therapist, they can go into the Marines and do that as well."
For Marine recruiters, that's the goal: to show educators there's more to the Corps than just being a fighting force.
"Our entire purpose is to make Marines, and return those individuals back to their community better than what they came in," said Gunnery Sgt. Kramer.
And through the Educators Workshop, they can enlist educators in helping them find the next generation of Marines.
For more information on the Marine Corps, visit the Midwest Marines website here.