Popular RMCSJ Academic Director Pays a Visit to His Former Students…

Popular RMCSJ Academic Director Pays a Visit to His Former Students…

By: WJO

Royal Military College Saint-Jean (RMC Saint-Jean) was inaugurated in 2008. They offer college-level and first-year university programmes in Science and Social Sciences.

In short, on the ground during the school year, RMCSJ has two different years of officer-cadets – prep & first year.

Prep Year is equivalent to grade 12 in most provinces and to the first year of college-level studies (CEGEP) in Quebec. Students who meet the prerequisites may be given the opportunity to complete First Year at RMC Saint-Jean without the need to attend Prep Year.

First Year

This academic year is designed to provide the same university-level programmes offered at Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston. Those who complete First Year successfully continue toward an undergraduate degree beginning in the Second Year at RMCC.

The first year of university is a HUGE adjustment for most students – regardless of the university. Adjusting to a new PLACE, a new CULTURE, in many cases, a Second LANGUAGE, and new ways of LEARNING, this first year is often very, very challenging.

10966 Lieutenant-General (ret) Michel Maisonneuve (RMC Class of 1976 – former Cadet Wing Commander) has been the RMCSJ Academic Director since Day One. Over the same time there have been three different commandants.

Just when the students reach a comfort level at RMCSJ – as previously mentioned the successful ones and those pursuing a career in the Canadian Armed Forces head off to Kingston.

To ease the transition from RMCSJ to RMCC a number of steps are involved. Lessons have been learned since 2009. The process is still not perfect but greatly improved

In early May, the soon to be RMCSJ graduating first years jump on a bus for the three hour (approx) ride to Kingston for an over-night stay. At Kingston, there are a number of structured briefings to help acquaint them on what to expect when they arrive in September to commence second year. All four components are covered – leadership; academics; sports / fitness; and second language training.

The aim, of course, is to make sure there will be NO surprises!

Opportunities are also provided for the cadets from both institutions to mingle socially; in particular, the soon-to-be second years meet up and swap stories (good & bad) on their personal take of the system.

Fast forward to November. Michel Maisonneuve for the 5th straight year makes a staff visit to the Limestone City. Joining him are the Director of Cadets, College Sgt-Major; Athletic Director and other drill staff.

The visit started early and ran all day. At 0700 – the main floor of Currie Hall was pretty well full (approx 150 former RMCSJ cadets) sit very attentively as their former Academic Director in his typical easy but very professional manner tells them how much they are missed and he wants to know – “how are things here in Kingston?”

These new (to Kingston) second years have all completed critiques (earlier in the school year) on their personal experience during the transition. Prior to the November visit, these critiques are carefully reviewed by the RMCSJ senior leadership.

Bryan Bailey, Executive Director,  RMC Club had the opportunity to make a convincing pitch to the former RMCSJ cadets, prior to the formal briefing started, on the merits of joining the Club. Michel Maisonneuve strongly endorsed this message too.

Before the formal business, a nice short but impressive presentation of a “Sword of Honour” was made by Major Alain Proulx, D Cadets from RMC Saint-Jean to 26471 OCdt Samuel Brière. He had been chosen Top Cadet in all four components during the last school year at RMCSJ.

From the start, Michel Maisonneuve made it clear, he is serious, he wants to hear of any problem  – big and small.

Speaking clearly from the heart, he encouraged the cadets to speak frankly – “…we care about you, and just because you are no longer in Ste Jean, we will do all we can to make sure that you have every opportunity for success in Kingston and beyond.”

Exchanges go back in forth, in both official languages. Michel takes notes, advised some of them to follow-up with more details in an e-mail to him. He also assured them that he will take their issues to the proper authority for clarification.

With the assistance of the other staff, all four components were covered.

It is not surprising there were a few serious issues which can be corrected – the main one being – there appeared to be a lapse in the e-mail system. Cadets were cut-off the RMCSJ early and it took too much time to get on the  RMCC system. The consequence being, there were some problems getting registered for classes and other routine communication headaches.

The one hour session went by quickly – most of the cadets had classes scheduled for 0800. They left confident knowing that they had a chance to air their concerns to a familiar leader; someone in authority who they are comfortable with and has a proven record of getting things done.

For the rest of the day, the RMCSJ visitors met up with their RMCC staff counter-parts. The main event, Michel was invited to attend the RMCC weekly Dean’s Meeting chaired by the Principal, Dr Harry Kowal. At this meeting he had the opportunity to put on the record any problem areas related to academics affecting his former students.

As an aside, we have had the privilege to sit in on all the Michel Maisonneuve early November morning briefings over the past five years. It is fair to note that not all the problems are solved but it is very clear that each year the problems are less and less. Due mainly to the obvious and great cooperation of the staffs from both institutions.

Photos by Curtis Maynard –

More Photos from the Michel Maisonneuve Here