Fort Sam Houston Education Center helps Soldiers find success in the Army, in life
June 25, 2009
By L.A. Shively
- Spc. Clifton Napier came into the military with a GT score of 96 and never had a problem with it.
- Napier needed to raise his GT score.
- Napier's first stop was the Fort Sam Houston Army Educational Center where he discussed his options.
- A score of 110 is the cutoff for most opportunities - a higher score opens up a new world for Soldiers.
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- A Texas native, Spc. Clifton Napier was only following family tradition when he enlisted in the Army. His dad, Command Sgt. Maj. Antonio Johnson retired from Fort Sam Houston after serving for 23 years as a Combat Medic. Although he did not follow his dad into the medical field, Napier was satisfied working in the mechanics field for several years. Happy with his lifestyle, he married and looked forward to starting a family. Then something in his life changed.
"I came into the military with a GT (General Technical) score of 96 and never had a problem with it," Napier said. "But when my son was born my priorities shifted." Napier explained he became dissatisfied and a little restless. He felt he was a natural leader and began looking for more opportunities and a chance to move ahead with his career in the Army. But first he needed to raise his GT score.
Prior to enlisting in the military, all potential candidates must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or ASVAB test to qualify for service. The Army converts ASVAB scores into 10 different scoring areas in order to determine job eligibly. The GT combines a candidate's word knowledge, arithmetic reasoning and paragraph comprehension.
Napier's first stop was the FSH Army Educational Center where he discussed his options with Guidance Counselor Christine Mendez.
"The GT score affects promotion eligibility," Mendez said. "Although many come in with a lower score, 110 is the cutoff for most opportunities - a higher score opens up a new world for Soldiers."
"One of the principles of leadership is to know your weaknesses and to take action to improve them," said Ledell Bowman, education services officer.
"We have an excellent program to help Soldiers, known as Functional Academic Skills Training. The FAST program is for those Soldiers needing to improve their GT scores to 110 or above, and develop their reading and math skills."
Mendez explained the program is designed to help raise a Soldier's reading, language, and mathematics skills, and is recommended for Non-Commissioned Officer course attendance, college preparation and placement tests, taking the Armed Forces Classification Test or high-school equivalency test.
She said FAST has a flexible curriculum that can be structured around an individual's needs and schedule. It is self-paced and participation is usually between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. In addition to the FAST program, the FSH Education Center has test preparation guides available, and an extensive computer lab with on-line resources for Soldiers.
"We help Soldiers achieve their goals," said Marva Woods, instructor for the program. Woods has been teaching at the FSH Education Center for 15 years and takes a personal interest in her students.
"She's ruthless," jokes Napier. "She never gives up on you, she will not let you quit. She keeps you focused and taught me some things to help my memory skills."
"It's your life," said Woods, adding that success equals better job satisfaction and greater opportunity.
Although most students finish the FAST program in six weeks, Napier took 10 weeks. His perseverance landed him a spot in the Army's Green to Gold program. He is excited to be able to attend college and is considering both logistics as well as medicine. He says his dad is very proud.
Unfortunately, the FSH Education Center is facing cutbacks, unless more Soldiers take that first step toward achievement.
"At the present time, funding for this program is going to be cut drastically," Bowman, said. "We want soldiers to see the value of this program use it as a tool to improve themselves. Any Soldier interested in this service should visit the Education Center and speak to a counselor."