Feb. 20, 2020
Pflugerville ISD’s first-ever Army Junior ROTC program now has a leader.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Joseph Kelly has been named Cougar Battalion commander for the JROTC unit to be based at Connally High School. The unit is the only of its kind in the Austin area, with the nearest Army JROTC program in operation currently in Harker Heights, near Killeen.
“It’s really an honor to be here,” Kelly said. “I just want to make a positive difference here in the lives of these students.”
Kelly’s background has prepared him for a role in education, and in establishing a military-related student program. Among his duties will be establishing the unit’s initial equipment inventory and overseeing operations, and during his 20 years as an Army officer, his duties largely dealt with operations and logistics.
Among other titles, he served as an operations officer, deployment support team leader and battalion executive officer while in the Army.
He also worked as a military science professor at Florida A&M University from 2010-14, while still in the Army. That gave him experience in recruiting and hiring staff, both duties he will hold overseeing the Connally program.
“It’s a much taller task than it looks like from outside looking in,” Kelly noted of his newest position. “However, my assignments leading up to here almost perfectly prepared me for this.”
He holds a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University and a master’s degree in logistics management from Florida Institute of Technology.
He is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in educational leadership from Florida A&M.
A character development and citizenship program, Army JROTC currently operates in more than 1,700 public and private high schools, military institutions and correctional centers throughout the United States and overseas. Nearly 4,000 instructors – retired from active or reserve duty or National Guard Army service – are trained to teach and mentor approximately 314,000 cadets annually in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007.
JROTC curriculum includes lessons in leadership, health and wellness, physical fitness, first-aid, geography, American history and government, communications and emotional intelligence.
Cadets must participate in co-curricular activities to reinforce what is learned in the classroom. Some of these activities include precision and exhibition military drill competitions; air rifle competitions; Leadership and Academic Bowl; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Camp; and physical fitness contests.
“The Army JROTC places a strong emphasis on character education,” said Connally Principal Sheila Reed. “Character education is a key component of our campus and we are thrilled to support and offer this opportunity to our students.”