Category Archives: Teacher Talk

Outstanding performance over Fall Family Weekend earns Corps of Cadets a free rev

Below is an email excerpt from NMMI Commandant Jonathan Graff, sent out to NMMI faculty, staff and the Corps of Cadets:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This last weekend represented a significant milestone for this year’s Recruits. Not only was this Fall Family Weekend, but it was also the time for Recruits to transition to New Cadet status. This year 455 cadets started the semester as Recruits at Training (RATs). Of this number, 431 were able to meet the rigorous challenge of becoming a member of the Corps of Cadets. We are all very proud of their accomplishment.

Throughout the past seven weeks, the Cadet leadership has been responsible for training and ensuring that each Recruit knows, understands, and meets the standards required to be a member of the Corps of Cadets. These standards are:

– Live by the Honor Code and demonstrate high ethical and moral standards.
– Demonstrate self-control, self-discipline, and respect for authority.
– Demonstrate military bearing and social etiquette.
– Accept responsibility and accountability for your own actions.
– Show consideration for others and respect for diversity.
– Learn the Institute’s customs, traditions, and regulations.
– Demonstrate attention to detail and the ability to organize and use one’s time effectively and efficiently.
– Complete the physical fitness test, set goals for physical readiness development and demonstrate a commitment to living a healthy lifestyle.
– Demonstrate the ability to be a good follower, a good team member, and establish goals for leadership and character development.
– Avoid high risk behavior.
– Demonstrate a strong work ethic, and the desire to learn and achieve academic excellence.
– Live by the NMMI core values of Duty, Honor, and Achievement.

The Cadet Chain of Command has recommended to the Regimental Commander that each Recruit be elevated to the status of New Cadet. New Cadet privileges include:

– Wearing of the black New Cadet boards with the NMMI crest
– Wearing of earned awards on the B w/Brass and Class A uniforms
– Use of the game room on weekends

General Permit for New Cadets on following weekends is contingent on the conduct and performance of RAT duties through the following weeks. General Permit for New Cadets will be based on recommendation from the Cadet chain of command. New Cadets are expected to work together as a class to achieve and maintain high standards.

Presentation of the New Cadet Boards signifies official acceptance of Recruits into the Corps of Cadets. Congratulations, New Cadets!

On that note, the Corps performed outstandingly across the board over this weekend. Rooms and uniforms were excellent during the formal inspections. The “Best Squad” competition was performed to JROTC Drill Competition standard, and even had to be cut short as rigorous standards pushed the competition up into parade prep time. The Corps went straight from the squad competition to the parade field with barely a break, and despite the heat, only three cadets fell out. This parade was one of the best any of us have seen, even though it was the first parade of the year. Your hard work has paid off.

Parents, visitors and alumni who spoke with the staff this weekend were thrilled with the growth and positive experiences their cadets were having. One distinguished alumnus stated that the standards and performance of the Corps were outstanding and very much the same as what he experienced as a Cadet at NMMI. That is quite a compliment to you all.

In recognition of this outstanding performance, I am granting the Corps a Free Rev on Wednesday, 27 September.

I am very proud of the conduct of the Corps over the weekend and especially of the leaders who helped to achieve this standard. You are making some amazing things happen!

Keep leading by example,
LTC Graff

Jonathan K. Graff, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, (Ret)
Commandant of Cadets / Dean of Students
New Mexico Military Institute

Financing the Education of Your Dreams

By: Kalith Smith, Director of Admission New Mexico Military Institute

Last year I celebrated the arrival of the entering class of 2016 with a day at the Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad, NM. The Office of Admission had worked hard to bring in the class, but I had my phone forwarded to me just in case. I didn’t expect anything too earth shattering to happen. Then my phone rang. As I helped my kids understand the history that carved out Carlsbad Caverns, the voice on the other end asked a few simple questions, “My nephew was supposed to come to NMMI for matriculation, but we had a funeral. Can he still come? What would he need to have pulled together?” I explained to his Aunt that based on his Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which all high school seniors should fill out online at, the student was getting an incredible value. He was receiving aid and scholarships based on his admission, his academic ability and his financial need, but the student did not understand. This student had started his journey to NMMI during an annual trip with the Pinon, Arizona JROTC Cadets to NMMI as part of the Navajo Nation Reservation. But when thinking about NMMI for college—he saw Roswell, NM as a bridge too far. But when his Aunt found out that the pieces for his future—especially financially could come together–he was on the road to NMMI! His family went all out to make sure he didn’t miss the opportunity.

Fast forward to December when his mom and grandmother picked him up for winter break. I had asked to meet them, so he brought them to my office. I saw his Best New Cadet (BNC) Boards and asked if they knew what that meant. These boards are highly prized and point to a rising star in the Corps of Cadets. Once I explained the boards, they were beaming. What had almost ended before it got started had a wonderful end to the first chapter of his story at NMMI. His performance at NMMI brought pride to him, his family and the entire Navajo Nation. His Aunt stepped in at just the right moment, asked just the right questions and made the effort to drive him to Roswell and ensure that he took advantage of this opportunity.

At NMMI, we work very hard to create opportunities for students that cannot be achieved anywhere else. Each accredited institution you are considering will have unique things to offer and you are left to make a decision on which road to choose. However, sometimes students stop themselves before they are able to find out what is possible. This happens all the time when students and families see the initial price tag for education and shy away, not taking the time to go through the process that would allow us to process the file for admission. Once a student is admitted, they are automatically considered for scholarships. At NMMI we don’t only look at your GPA and test score, we are also considering your past behavior, your leadership and any special ability as we award scholarships. In each situation we can’t tell you what you might be eligible for if you don’t complete your application! So, whatever school you are considering move through their process and find out what is possible before you declare it to be impossible. Now is the time, apply online, send in the necessary documents and see what might be possible. My student who almost stopped himself is up for a big promotion in the Corps of Cadets in the fall. He is incredible, but he needed to take a step out of his comfort zone (and he needed a little push from his family) to find out just how incredible he really is!

As Dr. Seuss wrote:

You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting! So…get on your way!

NMMI Named Most Beautiful Military School in the US

New Mexico Military Institute was recently named as the Most Beautiful Military School in the US by Thank you to all cadets, alumni, parents, families, friends, and all others, who took the time to vote.


Photo Credit: Kirsten Alton

Finding the Best School for You

By: LTC Kalith Smith, Director of Admissions

Choosing a school comes with lots of questions and a good deal of pressure. Students who get to a turning point in choosing where to attend often have not prepared for the decision, and it can be so overwhelming that you may not give it more than a passing thought before you return to the ‘normal’ schools that everyone else chooses. For many students ‘normal’ is good enough. For some students, they want to find the best possible place to fit their learning needs. A school that will challenge them to achieve while supporting their development as a whole person. Once you start to think about what school best serves you, the variables are numerous. Let me be clear in my personal bias: I hold the belief that education that is ‘one size fits all’ will never be as beneficial to students as an education that allows students to place into courses based on their ability. Working with students to find the courses that best fit their needs also put them in the best position to know what type of college or university fits those needs and work toward admission to those schools.

Today I read Scott and Borgman’s comic strip, ‘Zits’:


Sometimes students need more than just ‘guidance’ when planning for their education, they need a psychologist! When I first arrived in Roswell in 2006 I came here as a guidance counselor. I had been in the business of college admission for close to a decade and it was time for a change. At NMMI we pride ourselves on our college placement and our support of students through their decision making process. By helping many students through decisions on their future education, I have found that emotions take over if there isn’t a written list. This works wonders to help clarify and somewhat quantify your choice of school or the whole decision can end up being very emotionally driven. There is certainly a part of the equation that is ‘feel’, and that is included here, but that can’t be the whole equation. So, as you go through the decision on where you will spend next term or next year, make a list creating a ranking of your top schools that is what YOU want out of college is not as hard as it seems!

Each of us likes to see things spelled out clearly. We love rankings. However, in school selection, the only rankings that matter is you finding the best possible school for you. So, making your own list is quite personal, but the most important part in school selection.

My list would look something like this:

  1. What do I like to do best?
    1. I enjoy history best out of my subjects in school
    2. I like to make good, long-term relationships
    3. I enjoy music
    4. I love the outdoors
    5. I like to be challenged and learn new things
    6. I like complex ideas and solutions to those complex issues.
  2. What are my strengths?
    1. I work well with others.
    2. I like to plan ahead and make sure everything is in order.
    3. I am a hard worker
  3. What are my weaknesses?
    1. I don’t like it when someone feels they are right all of the time.
    2. I value other’s opinions even if I don’t agree with them
    3. I struggle with math unless I see the purpose

With this list, you begin to see a picture of yourself as a student. Now, it can also be helpful to have your teachers and others who know you come up with a similar list, but be cautious if you aren’t ready to listen to what they have to say, it’s better not to ask.

Once you create your list of important factors, you need a way to rank them. My ranking list suggestion is here for my love of history:

  • School has no history courses=0
  • School offers history courses=1
  • School has a full offering of US and World history=2
  • School has a full offering with other niche classes (Such as art or military history) =3
  • School has a special program or a major in history=4
  • The program at the school has a full offering and opportunities to study abroad and visit locations I learn about=5

This provides me with a way to rank the schools, for my own needs, that I am interested in attending. Once you go through all of your points from your list, then you have a ranking of your schools by point value.

At NMMI we rank very high in the percentage of faculty members who have advanced degrees, meaning that we have a very well qualified faculty, the percentage of students on some form of financial aid, diversity of our student body and the number of advanced courses we offer. Those are our top rankings, but what ranking matters to you? There is no ranking for a leadership program, but that may be important to you. Our Ropes Course is a big part of that, again no rankings. Bottom line is what ranks up there for you!

Once you have a list based on what you would like in your school, look at their value proposition. How much will the education cost at each school and how much can you afford? Schools do have aid packages and scholarships to help, but for this practice let’s assume you will pay the highest price possible based on the schools published costs and discounts. Remember, most schools will not offer any aid until you have gone through the admission process successfully. This ranking might look like this:

  • I can afford this school no matter how much aid they give me =5
  • I can probably afford this school with a little help=4
  • I may be able to afford the school with considerable help=3
  • I may be able to afford the school with substantial help=2
  • I can afford the school if they give me a full ride=1
  • I can’t afford this school even if they pay for everything=0

Once you rank the schools based on your fit from the first equation and your ability to afford the education in the second equation, it’s time to schedule some visits!

Visit the top schools that fit you best and you likely can afford.

Finally, after you conduct your visits, give each school a third ranking based on the visit and how the school fits you. This is a ‘feel’ ranking that does take into account how you feel on the campus. Now, double back to the question of can they support your strengths and weaknesses and fit into your initial criteria and you likely have narrowed down your choice.

Of course, I hope that New Mexico Military Institute is on that short list, but our primary objective is to find students who will be successful here and to help those that aren’t a good fit find a great educational home elsewhere.

Need more information? Feel free to e-mail the author any questions or comments you may have! Contact the NMMI Office of Admission for more information about NMMI.


By: Douglas J. Murray, Dean/CAO NMMIHappyThanksgiving2-0001516

Each year as we approach Thanksgiving, a plethora of commentaries appear concerning the meaning of the day. I would suggest that all the ideas fall into one of three categories regarding what we celebrate on this day. Put differently, there are three Thanksgivings, but only one that matters.

First “The Historical Thanksgiving” recalls the events of 1620 when Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock founding the Massachusetts Colony. Today, we celebrate “The Historical Thanksgiving” by feasting on turkey and all of the fixings believing that the Pilgrims and Native Americans did the same in 1620. Controversy now surrounds this view of Thanksgiving in terms of how the colonists treated the Native Americans, the Pokanoket tribe. In fact, just before the holiday this year, the National Geographic Channel will air a two-part special USA Today headlines as, “Telling the True Story of Thanksgiving.”

The second Thanksgiving, “The Commercial Thanksgiving,” normally initiates the Christmas holiday shopping season (though recently that has begun as early as Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin rising out of the pumpkin patch!) This is the Thanksgiving of the Macy’s Parade, football, and above all Black Friday, which might be better described as Good Sales Friday. We celebrate it by standing in long lines for many hours, waiting for the stores to open so we are first in line to get the specially marked down sale items. “The Commercial Thanksgiving” has been referred to by some as “The Forgotten Holiday” intimating that we have forgotten what we celebrate.

This brings me to the third Thanksgiving, what I will call “The Meaningful Thanksgiving.” This is the Thanksgiving one Native American, D. J. Vanas, referred to when he opined that Thanksgiving can “…be a more meaningful holiday for all of us. Beyond the historic context, beyond the idea that fall was a traditional harvest celebration time for Native people, beyond turkey and beyond football is this: simple gratitude, a sense of awe, that we are blessed beyond words no matter where we are or what we’ve been through on the journey.”

This is the same Thanksgiving President Lincoln proclaimed as “…a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Now, some who read this might ask, “What is there to be thankful for?” given the state of the American economy, the increasing domestic violence and random shootings, the concerns with American education, and the world engaged in conflict if not an actual war, as the President of France put it, on those who perpetuate terrorism.

The answer to those who ask this and would have us believe that our nation is in a downward spiral is that this is not the first time adversity is our unwanted companion. Resolutely, each time we as a nation have been challenged; we have met and overcome the adversity. Doing so has bettered us. For example, this year we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the end of the War of 1812, which enabled us to finally secure our independence from England. We also commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end World War II, which defeated the greatest threat to our values and insured our position as a world leader. I am reminded of the words of Wilbur Wright: “From adversity comes innovations and success for all mankind,” and Lee Greenwood who sings that he is, “…proud to be an American.” Perhaps this Thanksgiving we should change the lyrics so that we all can say: “I am thankful to be an American!”

We should celebrate “The Third Thanksgiving” by remembering who we, Americans all – have been, are and will be – a nation built upon a foundation of values, principles, and rights that establish, guarantee, and protect the life, liberty and happiness of the individual, regardless of origin, makeup, or status in life, and the family, regardless of how defined. Rather than apologize for our efforts and sacrifices to extend these same rights to others in the world, we should applaud them. Lest we forget the young Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafza, who was seriously wounded by a Taliban gunman because she demanded that girls have a right to be educated, as educators, we should be thankful for and celebrate the right of education for all Americans.

The purpose of this piece is not to suggest that individuals or families cannot gather to share a blessing, have a great meal, watch their favorite team, and shop until they drop. Those activities have become part of the celebration, and that is OK. But, hopefully, we will pause – perhaps at half-time, or before the meal – to remember that for which we are thankful and, in that way, tell the children the real meaning of the day.

Let me close with this thought. There is a place where what I call “The Third Thanksgiving” is always celebrated, where the real meaning for the day is not forgotten. This year that place celebrates its 60th anniversary. In 1955, the founder told Americans that his construction “…will be based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and hard facts that have created America. And it will be uniquely equipped to dramatize these dreams and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world.” I like to think that those words of Walt Disney capture the meaning of the day and that D.J. Vanas and Abraham Lincoln would agree.