Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) Instructor Master Chief Michael Foster will be hanging up his military uniform once again. This past 2017-18 school year was his last as he has retired from Riverbank High School after 18 years of service to the Riverbank Unified School District.
Foster began his career with Riverbank High School in 2000 and seen many students flourish and grow into outstanding individuals. He had a variety of students in his classes over the years from athletes and academic scholars to drama students and band members.
NJROTC is an elective class that can be used for PE and Health credits that will teach students leadership and Naval History, which was one of Foster’s favorite things to teach the students.
“I loved Naval History,” stated Foster. “I had a good time with that. I think kids would find their niche in there (the class). They don’t have to be an athlete, they don’t have to be a scholar, and they don’t have to be in the band. I have always had a good mixture of the high school in there.”
In the early 2000’s Foster started taking 35 to 40 students to Camp Parks in Dublin, California for an outing that began on Tuesday morning and wrapped on Friday afternoon. According to Foster, the kids loved it and would always want to go back.
“We were able to use their obstacle course, their leadership reaction courses, we lived in their barracks, students stood watches,” explained Foster. “For a lot of those kids this was the first time they had ever left home. It was a good time for all of them to get to know each other, too.”
The students would also participate in drill meets all over the county. Students got to know other kids in the ROTC programs and build relationships like they did with the students from Manteca that were part of the Army JROTC.
The color guard would participate in many events off the high school campus throughout the community like most recently when Foster had them present the colors at the Memorial Day services held in Riverbank.
Through the many events and programs Foster shared a memory of when two students with special needs joined their group and were accepted by the entire class. The students looked out for them and would not allow them to be picked on.
“I think more so they learn things there that they don’t learn in other subjects,” added Foster. “We teach them about what it takes to be a good follower before you can be a good leader and they get to practice that stuff. We drill and we teach them the reason we drill is because it takes discipline to follow and to be able to march, all of you together, and they learn all that.”
With his retirement now official, the future holds new adventures for Foster and even a change of location. Although he will miss the interaction and camaraderie with the other teachers, the timing was right for his retirement. He and his wife are looking forward to traveling and a move to the East Coast to be closer to their son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. They will be keeping busy and enjoying the time shared with family.
“I have really enjoyed the support from the community, the Rotary Club, the Mayor’s office, the school district, and high school,” added Foster. “I didn’t have (that) in the first two places that I have taught. They supported me the whole time I have been there. You don’t find that in very many places that you work. I have just thoroughly enjoyed my time that I was there.”