PHILADELPHIA (Army News Service, Nov. 13, 2008) -- The Army Experience Center hosted its first Educator's Symposium Oct. 29, providing Philadelphia-area principals, superintendents, school counselors and teachers the opportunity to learn about the many ways in which the U.S. Army is committed to education.

Located at the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, the AEC is a state-of-the-art educational facility that uses interactive simulations and online learning programs to educate visitors about the many careers, training, and educational opportunities available in the Army.

More than 30 educators attended the event and had the chance to hear informative presentations by Army guest speakers. They heard how the AEC is bringing educational resources to the Philadelphia area and the attendees seemed impressed.

"I thought it was a successful event," said Bryan Brightbill, a science lead teacher from Thomas FitzSimons High School. "I will definitely go back and tell fellow teachers about all the programs I learned about tonight. "

Guest speakers highlighted a few of the 70 Army education programs including:

Aca,!Ac March 2 Success - This test prep tool provides free educational content to help anyone improve their knowledge and test scores in the areas of Language Arts, Mathematics and Science. March 2 Success also provides information about applying to college, including interviewing, essay writing, financial aid and other topics. Content is provided by Peterson's, Educational Options and College Options Foundation.

Aca,!Ac The National Science Center - Including Distance Learning or "NSC Live" which delivers interactive programming to schools across the United States.

Aca,!Ac Army National Guard - The You Can School Program, or YCSP, develops life skills for high school students while also offering community service opportunities. Through the Army National Guard, this program consists of dynamic, multimedia presentations that have been developed with the input of educators. The YCSP informs, motivates and empowers students by focusing on key decision-making skills. Various topics include drug and alcohol awareness, violence prevention, life betterment, career direction, health and well being, and discovery.

Aca,!Ac Boost - The Boost program is a public-service campaign designed to raise awareness of the high school dropout problem. Nearly 7,000 kids drop out of high school each day, and only six out of 10 kids will graduate high school. Research shows that the decision to drop out doesn't happen overnight. The campaign features stories of real teens across the country who are struggling to make it through high school, while also encouraging teens and parents to give these kids - and kids in their lives - a "boost" to help them stay in school and graduate.

Aca,!Ac Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB Career Exploration Program - This career exploration program is designed to help students learn more about themselves and the world of work. It helps students identify and explore potentially satisfying occupations and develop an effective strategy to realize their goals.

The Army also introduced educators to the Army education web site,, a portal to all the Army's education programs. Educators attending the event were surprised to see how easy it was to implement these programs on a local basis.

"(Before I arrived) the only thing I was aware of was the ASVAB test," said Margarita Battistini, a world language teacher from Northeast High School. "I was pleasantly surprised how all these programs can be used in the classroom."

The Army has always displayed a deep commitment to education and the need to continue this commitment is on the rise. According to a recent Manhattan Institute study, the current drop-out rate for high school students is 30-40 percent. Alanna Struss, the program manager for the Ad Council's Boost campaign, confirms that almost 7,000 students drop out of school each school day.

"This was an excellent opportunity to reach out to educators and showcase how the Army is committed to education," said Maj. Larry Dillard, the AEC program manager. "It also gave us the opportunity to display how the AEC can partner with local educators to invest in the community and create opportunities for young people."

AEC staff members said they anticipate that this event will encourage local educators to use the AEC as a resource in the future. The AEC has opened its doors as a venue for meetings, panel discussions, teaching purposes and field trips. This event was just the first of many community outreach activities that the AEC staff will be conducting in the Philadelphia area.

"We are taking a new approach to telling the Army story," Maj. Dillard said. "Our objective is to increase awareness of the many opportunities the Army has to offer. Many Americans don't realize that their Army is such a strong partner in secondary and post-secondary education. It is critical that we get the word out about the many ways in which we are investing in programs that keep young people in school and empower their success in school."

For more information on the AEC visit ,