By Sgt. 1st Class Christopher DeHart, Army North PAONovember 27, 2013
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Fort Sam Houston Army command representatives met with several Independent School District school staffs and superintendents Nov. 12 at the Sam Houston Community Center for a fall luncheon.
The meeting, hosted by U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) as part of the Fort Sam Houston Adopt-A-School Program, served as an opportunity for those gathered to discuss the progress of, and the way ahead, for the school-unit partnerships.
The program is designed to develop a better understanding of the community's school system, fortify and improve school programs and curricula, and create a sense of personal involvement and more direct interaction between the installation and school staffs.
It is a significant thing for military parents to remand the care and education of their children over to schools like theirs, said Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins, in speaking of the trust fostered as a result of the partnership program. Wiggins is the commanding general ofArmy North and senior commander for Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.
"We get to come together and really impact the minds of those who will make the difference in the next generation," said Wiggins, of the efforts of the relationship between the units and educators in the community.
Ten local schools, attended by students from Fort Sam Houston Army units, each have a unit sponsor, including a new partnership this year between Camelot Elementary in the North East Independent School District and Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Installation Management Command.
The other nine schools and their partners are: Wheatley Middle School (San Antonio ISD) and the 32nd Medical Brigade; Cole Middle and High School (Fort Sam Houston ISD) and Brooke Army Medical Center; Pershing Elementary School (SAISD) and U.S. Army North (Fifth Army); Lamar Elementary School (SAISD) and the U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command; Bowden Elementary (SAISD) and the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade; Washington Elementary (SAISD) and U.S. Army South; Wilshire Elementary (NEISD) and the 106th Signal Brigade and the 502nd Mission Support Group; East Terrell Hills Elementary (NEISD) and the 264th Medical Battalion; and Fort Sam Houston Elementary (FSHISD) and the U.S. Army Environmental Command.
Some of the events the schools have already conducted this year with their respective partners include: career days, mentoring for different subjects, perfect attendance recognition, holiday decorations, lunch buddies, support for graduations, reading programs, field days and more. Events such as lunch buddies and mentoring have been consistently popular with students in a majority of the schools and the hope is they will continue to grow the programs and events.
Future events include an Easter egg hunt that Army North hosts for Pershing Elementary students, the Angel Tree set up at fhte Army Environmental Command for Fort Sam Houston Elementary students who may be in need of supplies during the year, as well as repeating the most successful and well-received programs, particularly sports events such as the wheelchair basketball conducted at Cole Middle School and High School.
Other possibilities discussed ranged from radiology and health physics tours, to students dressing like a soldier day, as well as a christmas toy drive, a health fair, a beautification day and much more.
Partner units have unique capabilities and the capatility of tailoring programs for their schools, such as with USAEC and FSH Elementary.
"We have a lot of unique scientific knowledge and expertise at our disposal," said Col. Mark Lee, commander, USAEC, adding that his command is made up of a majority of civilian personnel who have a focus on the environment and the sciences that go with it, such as entomology or toxicology.
The Army partners all agreed that they felt the interaction the Soldiers have with the children is what makes the most difference.
"In a world where there are so many distractions, when (the students are) young and growing up, just to let them know there is somebody who cares -- someone who is going to take their time and sit and listen to (them). That, I think, is the true gift," said Lt. Col. Zoltan Krompecher, commander, Headquarters, Headquarters Battalion, Army North.
Pershing Elementary is Army North's partner school and Kathleen St. Clair, the school representative and principal, described the impact the partnership has had on the school just in the past year, citing that attendance has gone up and kids appear more motivated -- particularly when they know partner events are coming up
"We value our partnership, and I can't imagine what it would be like without it," said St. Clair. "The active participation (is great). When we've called them, they have come. They have supported us on so many events in the evening and during the day. The kids love them, and the parents are really appreciative as well."