Another Academy Awakening

What kind of lessons can a simple small marble teach Academy recruits and their instructor? BIG ones. Perfect ones.

Multiple voices rang out, “We let him down, ma’am.”

“That’s the right answer. Now, gather round me. Closer. Closer.” I drew the class into a tight semi-circle around me, their shoulders touching. I gestured them to lean in.

“Now, I want you to give me the perfect answer.” Instantly, De La Fuente held his marble out to Harrell. Without a word, the other recruits offered their marbles. A shimmering awakening shone upon us and we basked in it.

“Recruit De La Fuente, you give me hope for ALET 11-02. Take your seats.”

It felt like we’d all soared over the wall together.

The lesson for this instructor.

When they were seated, I said, “But there must be consequences. Clearly, by last evening, you still hadn’t learned the lesson of the marble. I leave pushups and inchworms on the tarmac to the Corporals for making things memorable. I’m going to try a different tack. ALET 11-02 must deliver to me by week’s end …” I let the blade hang in the air, “… a poem to the marble.”

Friday morning, ALET 11-02 delivered. Did they ever. They gathered in formation with Harrell leading and delivered a cadence that left this instructor with tears in her eyes and sparkles in her nose. They sounded off the lesson of the marble – caring for each other. They sounded off to Honor – Courage - Commitment. They were beautiful.

And they taught me something. I, my family, my community, my country – are in good hands with the next generation of peace officers. I’ve got my work cut out for me to be worthy of them.   

Shh… don’t tell them the final lesson.

I will be returning to Sitka next month to finish my training of ALET 11-02. When I say goodbye to them, I’ll order them to present their marbles for one last inspection.

When they take them out I’ll tell them:

“ALET 11-02, I now induct each of you into the brotherhood of the marble. But it’s not just a marble, it’s a crystal ball. If you look into it, you will see a reflection of your selves.  Therein you will find honor, courage, commitment and all the other qualities you set out for being great peace officers.

I know this – because I’ve spent nearly a quarter of a century with you and you’ve taught me more about the meaning of those words than any other experience it’s been my honor to have.”


About The Author:

Described by Calibre Press as "the indisputable master of enter-train-ment," Val Van Brocklin is an internationally sought speaker, trainer and noted author. She combines a dynamic presentation style with over 10 years experience as a prosecutor where her trial work received national media attention on ABC's Primetime Live, the Discovery Channel's Justice Files, in USA Today, The National Enquirer and REDBOOK. In addition to her personal appearances, she appears on television, radio, and webcasts, in newspapers, journal articles and books. Visit her website:

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