Adopt-a-School program pairs Soldiers and students
December 3, 2010
- Program joins elementary school students with local Soldiers
- Patrick Henry one of three schools participating
- Program up and running after five year hiatus
HEIDELBERG, Germany - Mentoring makes a difference, a difference that for a child in school can boost grades, improve discipline and enable the ability to interact socially.
Twenty soldiers from the Special Troops Battalion, V Corps, have chosen to join the mentoring program for Patrick Henry Elementary School students called Adopt-a-School.
Many of the Soldiers, like Maj. Demetrius Green, mentor more than one student so that a total of 50 students meet with STB Soldiers either in the classroom or on the playground.
"A teacher made a difference in how I turned out," said Maj. Demetrius Green, a combat engineer currently assigned as the STB operations officer. "I know how important it is." He said he knows the teachers can use the help.
Patrick Henry Elementary School Principal Allison Peltz knew the program was needed when she met a student who was upset because he'd just learned his father wouldn't be home for Christmas.
"His deployment had been extended," Peltz said. "I have parents who are deployed and who have deployed multiple times. These are the things that impact our children day to day."
U.S. Army Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4ttemberg Commander Col. Bill Butcher met with Peltz and others and discussed Adopt-a-School. The once-active program had been dormant in the community for five years. Now, all three Heidelberg schools have been adopted by USAG BW units.
"We looked at the needs of the individual child and the teachers identified children," Peltz said. Teachers work with the Soldiers to establish meeting times and discuss commitment. "We want (them) to be consistent so the child can build a relationship," Pelz said.
Green was the point of contact for battalion support. "The teachers gave us a list of areas they'd like for us to help, everything from social interaction to help with special subjects to recess. It runs the gamut." He works with five students - three in a multi-age third/fourth grade class and two in fifth grade - helping them in reading, math and with socialization.
"The teachers and the kids love it," Green said. "The teachers (said) there's a noticeable difference in how the kids act in class."
Green said many of the battalion's Soldiers have children in the Heidelberg schools. "But ironically, about half of the Soldiers who are volunteering with school don't even have kids," he said.
For the Soldiers, the outcome is different, perhaps.
"I just came off deployment," Green said. "This is my time to take a breather."
Adopt-a-School programs are also active at Heidelberg Middle School, which partners with the 18th Engineer Brigade and Heidelberg High School, whose partner is the 43rd Signal Battalion.