Hopewell High JROTC instructor earns districtwide honor
by Staff Writer
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools recently recognized a local instructor as the top JROTC leader in the school district for the 2011-12 school year.
On April 17, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools awarded Hopewell High School’s 1st Sgt. Daniel J. Ferriero with its Instructor of the Year award during a ceremony at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The district also announced that the school’s U.S. Army JROTC program earned second place in the annual Superintendent’s Cup competition, which consists of physical fitness, academic, military and community service challenges throughout the school year.
“It was an honor,” Ferriero said. “The kids and the parents are really great here at Hopewell and have helped to create a very strong program.”
Ferriero spent almost 23 years in the U.S. Army, serving in Korea and Germany, and split time between other European countries.
“When I was getting ready to retire, a friend mentioned that I should try teaching JROTC,” Ferriero said. “I spent a lot of time in the army as an instructor, so he had me do an interview at Olympic High School. They hired me, and I worked there for about two-and-a-half years.”
Ferriero arrived at Hopewell High in 2005, where Col. Robert Puckett was running the school’s fledgling JROTC program by himself. Ferriero split his time between Olympic and Hopewell the first year, but said he requested a transfer to Hopewell the following year to help build up the program full-time.
The program has grown from 130 cadets to, at one point, 250. The school lost about 40 cadets to Hough High School where Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Director of Military Instruction Col. Harry Ray said Ferriero pitched in to help out when the school opened in 2010. Hough High’s U.S. Army JROTC program took first place in this year’s Superintendent’s Cup Competition.
Ferriero’s Hopewell High program also has been recognized as an Honor Unit of Distinction for three consecutive years, a title given to the top proficient programs, Ray said. Programs given the Honor Unit of Distinction title may nominate five cadets for U.S. military academies, bypassing the Congressional nomination process.
“He’s been a mainstay ever since coming to Hopewell,” Ray said. “When it comes to annual inspections, he works with the cadets, takes them over and trains them. (The Hopewell program) has always been a very quality program in CMS. They are top-notch and they are prepared.”
Ferriero said he also organized a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools raider competition, a JROTC contest similar to Iron Man or U.S. Army ranger competition, in which cadets compete in a series of physical and military challenges.
“It started with one school competing, and now it’s expanded to include many programs in the school district,” Ferriero said.
While earning the Instructor of the Year award was an honor, Ferriero said, the best part of the experience was seeing the excitement of his own Hopewell High cadets.
“The biggest part was how proud the kids were of me,” Ferriero said. “I think the kids were more excited than I was.”