Sometimes, the most influential people in a child's life are his teachers. Because they spend most of their days and all their careers focused on youth development and education, teachers are in a unique position to know a lot about what's best for a child.

The more teachers know, the better they can help children.

The National Educators' Tour aims to make sure teachers from around the country get an accurate look at what a Soldier goes through when he or she first joins the Army, as well as what the Army lifestyle is and has to offer America's sons and daughters. This year's tour at Fort Jackson took place last week.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, the commanding general of U.S. Army Accessions Command, and Brenda Lillenthal Welburn, the executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, partnered to gather teachers and school officials from around the country at Fort Jackson to witness firsthand what the Army offers new Soldiers.

The 49 civilians viewed Basic Combat Training Soldiers working together at several obstacle courses, including Victory Tower and the Teamwork Development Course.

After a lunch of Meals Ready to Eat, the educators asked a panel of 10 Advanced Individual Training Soldiers many questions about their views of the Army and how they cope day in and day out.

"How do you get through'" asked one educator alluding to the stress involved in Army training.

"You may give up on yourself, but your cadre never gives up on you," said Spc. James Henson, of Company B, 369th Adjutant General Battalion. Henson said it was obvious to him that some people had never seen that level of encouragement in their civilian lives and had gained self-confidence through Army training.

On motivation, Pfc. Deyonna Williams, also of Co. B, 369th, said, "I never dreamed I'd be able to run two whole miles by myself. But my drill sergeants never lost faith in me. Some people are stuck for the rest of their lives without someone to have faith in them."

The audience applauded when the session was done.

Bill LaPrise, a 35-year veteran educator from Dayton, Ohio, said, "I remain so impressed with the young men and women who raise their hands and join. It gives me motivation to do what I do."
LaPrise, who retired from the Army after 28 years, is also the civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Ohio.

Brig. Gen. Bradley May, Fort Jackson commanding general, said he was proud watching his Soldiers impress the crowd.

"Those of us serving in uniform share a bond with those serving in the education community," May said. "We are responsible for educating, training, developing and shaping American's youth for success, now and in the future. I would be hard pressed to cite a more important responsibility. Our nation is counting on us."