Fort McPherson becomes classroom for day
Howard Mullen, plans officer, U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, gives children from Toomer Elementary School a speech about the importance of studying in school and listening to parents and teachers while they toured the USAG Headquarters (Bldg. 65). The 54 children visited Fort McPherson as part of a field trip March 25.

On March 25, Fort McPherson became a classroom for 54 students from Toomer Elementary School during a field trip to the installation.

The trip, coordinated between Jean Blackshear, a second grade teacher at the school, and Camellia Jefferson, U.S. Army Garrison school liaison officer, allowed the children, in kindergarten through third grade, to see what life was like on a military installation.

The children were able to use the things they saw to enhance the lessons they were learning in class, Blackshear added. These lessons include physical science, math, social studies and language arts, Blackshear said.

To help understand physical science and fractions in math, the students began their field trip by visiting the Strike Zone for bowling. "I hope they can get and apply what they learned in class," Blackshear said. "Hands-on experience is always better than just reading a book."

Following bowling and a lunch in Jacobs Park, the group took a tour of the Garrison Headquarters (Bldg. 65), where they got to talk with Soldiers and garrison Civilian employees, Jefferson said. "They are studying military life, culture and history," Jefferson said. "They were really fascinated to see Soldiers."

Blackshear said the interaction helped reinforce and teach the civic responsibilities of American citizens, a lesson she is teaching her students in their social studies class, in addition to allowing students to see what a Soldier's job entails and the tools they use.

Finally, the students will write about the experience as part of their language arts course, she added. "A field trip is sometimes the only chance these kids will get to experience this," Blackshear said of the opportunity to visit the military installation, adding she is saddened to see the base close.

Fort McPherson adopted Toomer and has had a strong relationship with the school for several years, Blackshear said. Fellow second grade teacher Denita Carr agreed, saying the garrison has always provided support. Carr, whose father, Norman, served in the Army, added the relationship has helped educate Toomer students over the years and helped them see the military in a positive way.

Though the trip only lasted a few hours, Blackshear said she hopes students gained some good lessons. She said she was thankful for the opportunity and looks forward to continuing to work with the base until it closes.

Jefferson, who said she believes the students got a good experience, reaffirmed the garrison's commitment to continuing to work with local schools, adding additional programs are already in the works.

Page last updated Mon April 11th, 2011 at 09:41