ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Petty Officer Edward “Theo” Theodoro is proud of the accomplishments of the Naval Junior ROTC program during his nine-year tenure as Naval science instructor at Robertsdale High School.
“I am just proud that I am leaving the program in a better state than it was when I got here,” he said. “That’s nothing against those who came before me. Master Chief (Robert) Dairy had built a strong here when I came. I’m just proud we were able to build on those accomplishments.”
A native of Missouri, Theodoro joined the Navy 10 days after graduating high school and retired with 20 years of service, having served in Dessert Shield and Dessert Storm.
In 1993 he was assigned to Barin Field in Elberta. While there where he would meet and later marry Mitzi Johnson, the daughter of Baldwin County Sheriff Jimmy Johnson.
After retiring in 2009, Theodoro worked for Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach from 2009 to 2012 applying for the position of Naval instructor at Robertsdale High School when Dairy, who had started the program at RHS, retired in 2012.
“We had 90 cadets when I came here,” he said. “We now have 170. At one time we had over 200 but the numbers are down because of COVID.”
With the addition of cadets from Elberta High School, Robertsdale High School expanded in 2018 from a company up to a battalion, hiring a third instructor, Petty Officer Erin Pate. Lt. Col. Scott Meehan served as senior instructor from 2015-18. Commander Frank Starr has served as senior instructor since 2018.
During his nine years at RHS, Robertsdale has competed nationally in orienteering, air rifle and CyberPatriot competitions, and has competed at the international level in the ROTC’s Brain Brawl competition.
Cadets have also served numerous hours of community service over the years, and have become leaders in the school’s annual Toys for Tots drive.
Individually, cadets have earned numerous scholarships and for the third straight year, a cadet earned the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement.
Named the school’s Teacher of the Year for 2016, Theodoro said he is particularly proud of the fact that all of the cadets that have come through the program over the last few years have reached graduation.
“I developed the hashtag ‘Graduation Comes First’ and I am really proud of the accomplishment that all of our cadets during this time period have graduated,” he said. “We have both the valedictorian and salutatorian in this year’s senior class.”
This year’s valedictorian happens to be Theodoro’s son, Hunter, who will be attending Embry-Riddle in the fall.
Which is part of the reason why Theodoro is moving on after spending nine years at RHS, taking the position of Naval science instructor at Gulf Shores High School alongside Meehan, who is now senior instructor and ROTC commander at GSHS.
“It’s a smaller program, about 50 kids as opposed to 170,” Theodoro said. “We have a place down there so I will definitely enjoy being able to spend more time on the beach.”
Nevertheless, Theodoro said, it will be hard leaving the cadets, his fellow instructors and the community of Robertsdale.
“It will definitely be hard leaving this principal,” he said. “Joe Sharp has been one of the best people to work with. He’s really committed to academics and providing our students with everything they need to succeed.”
That support extends to the city of Robertsdale and the community, Theodoro said.
“Mayor Charles Murphy and (council member) Ruthie Campbell have been great to us and I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “Anything we’ve ever needed, all it took was a phone call and we got it. Their support for our program and the support of the community has been second to none.”