HONOLULU, Hawaii -- About a dozen Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 311th Signal Command (Theater), paid their monthly visit to Fern Elementary School to read books out loud to students Friday.
"It's a great partnership we have with the school," said Maj. Gen. James Walton, Commander, 311th SC(T), who enjoyed his first experience reading to the students Friday. "It gives our Soldiers and Families an appreciation of the community we are a part of, and allows us to be an active, contributing part."
Read Out Loud!, the cooperative program between the unit and school, allows Soldiers to read to and interact with groups of students in the library and class rooms on the first Friday of each month throughout the school year. It has received accolades from teachers, as the interaction with Soldiers has reportedly inspired improved behavior among the students.
"The joy and excitement on [the students'] faces, when the Soldiers are engaged with them, shows us that it means a lot, that someone else cares about them," said fourth grade teacher Mark Atta of the book reading program. "It's great to have the Soldiers come here and give them that extra support."
The Soldiers of HHC have been partnering with Fern Elementary since 2011 for various events throughout the school year, such as the school's annual Drug Free Jump Rope for the Heart field day to promote active healthy lifestyles and introduce students to positive role models and professional opportunities.
"Your efforts help us reinforce a culture of reading, where every child knows how to and wants to read," said Fern Elementary School counselor Cedric Chu. "This is a very different world form the one I grew up in. I actually see students bringing books to school to read for leisure, thanks to an emphasis on reading in our schools, the media, community agencies like Read Aloud Program, and support from our community members, such as the military."
The unit's Family Readiness Group has organized a Back to School donation drive for school supplies the past two years, with the 2013 drive resulting in a truck load of donations, triple the size of the 2012 drive.
"Your coming in to bring the donations really helps open up my students' perspective of other people trying to help them succeed in their learning," said Leanna Agcaoili, a 4th grade teacher at Fern. "It lets them know there are military families who care about a better future for our students… it really helps me as a teacher, to help them succeed."
The 311th SC(T), headquartered at Fort Shafter, is the designated Signal Command for the Pacific Theater and provides ongoing support for cooperative military exercises with partner nations throughout the Pacific and Warfighters around the world. Their primary mission is to plan, build, operate, defend, and extend secure Army and Joint networks throughout the Pacific Theater, and support cyberspace operations to ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace.