Retired Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Bingham doesn’t teach the average high school student in a traditional class room. His students come to him from all walks of life. Some arrive knowing exactly what they want — a career in the military. Others reluctantly show up having been sent to the program as a “last resort.” But no matter what their situation, Commander Bingham gives them his best effort and the results speak for themselves.
After 22 years and a very successful career in the Navy, Commander Bingham retired and almost immediately launched a new career-building America’s future. In 1994, he established the Boca Raton Community High School JNROTC program with only 39 cadets. Today the program is 180 cadets strong and has more than 150 trophies, ribbons, and awards which represent the hard work of his cadets and the dedication to young Americans exhibited by Commander Bingham every day.
More important than the trophies though, are the individual students who attest to the success of the program. Last year, one of his cadets, Austin Haynie (pictured here with Commander Bingham), was commissioned to the United States Naval Academy. Austin’s first step to achieve his dream was joining the NJROTC his freshman year under the guidance and training of Commander Bingham. Bingham credits the cadets with their success, but the cadets credit him. “We do run the program,” they say, “but he is the foundation.” What is Commander Bingham’s recipe for success? “Get the kids to believe in themselves — that they are winners — then work hard at whatever you do!”
Commander Bingham credits his father, a police officer, for imparting to him the values and principals which are the cornerstone of his success. “My father believed in living an honest and accomplished life. He instilled in us knowledge, skills, and integrity,” Bingham says, and believes those attributes gave him the opportunity to accomplish many things in my life. Because of those experiences, he wanted to “pay it forward” to the young people of today. His goals are best expressed in the mission statement of his NJROTC unit: To instill in students the value of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment.
For his dedication and interest in developing these young students into true patriots, he was recently selected as Teacher of the Year and he is our first Guardian of the Republic from the education category.
Learn more about Commander Bingham and the Boca Raton Bobcat Regiment 2014 Florida State Champions here.