As part of their continuing partnership with nearby Bowden Elementary School, Soldiers from the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade gave 32 of its teachers and staff members a taste of military training earlier this month.

Since school began last year, volunteers from the brigade's headquarters and headquarters company have visited the school on a weekly basis to mentor students. However, on May 9, the Soldiers introduced the school's adults to a weapon firing simulation on Fort Sam Houston as a team-building exercise.

"The intent of the training was to let them experience something together -- an experience they could share as a team," said Sgt. 1st Class Sandra Hocking, who has been coordinating activities between the school and the brigade volunteers.

Twelve Soldiers took the team to the Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) 2000, a laser-based simulator that provides shooters with a simulated shooting experience that attempts to replicate a weapon's sound, weight and recoil as shooters fire at targets in various terrain scenarios.

"During the team-building event, Soldiers taught the teachers some of the basics of how to shoot the M4 Military Assault Rifle, including how to hold the weapon and how to eject and reload magazines," Hocking related. "The EST 2000 staff then ran the teachers through two team training scenarios in which they were tasked to shoot approaching enemy soldiers."

Hocking said that although many of their guests had never held a rifle before, they experimented with various shooting positions and firing modes with brigade Soldiers providing assistance as needed. When the shooting stopped, the EST 2000 instructor read the scores aloud.

One teacher who had weapons experience said she still enjoyed the simulation.

"Being a veteran, I was familiar with the gear, but I feel that it was a great opportunity for our team and school to work together as one unit," said Head Start teacher Neomi Serros. "I am also glad we got to work with equipment that the courageous defenders of our country work with."

Jane Cunningham, a first-grade teacher, got insight into her grandson's training.

"He is graduating from basic training," she said. "It was enlightening to experience just a small example of what he has been doing and learning."

Marlene Alonso, a fourth-grade teacher, termed the team-building activity "awesome."

"As teachers we often think we have the hardest job in the world," she said. "But putting ourselves in the role of a Soldier was a real eye-opener."