By 3rd Sustainment Command Public AffairsMarch 14, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Sgt. Jacob Weigel, of Golden, Colo., lends his expertise in the classroom teaching Functional Academic Skills Training (FAST) at the Blackjack Education Center in order to help fellow Soldiers improve their GT score.
Since last October, Sgt. Weigel, Contracting Officer's Assistant for the 259th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 304th Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) has taught nearly 180 Soldiers, 80 percent of which have improved their GT score. "This class is a great tool Soldiers can use to improve their arithmetic and reading skills," says Sgt. Weigel.
Each class is required to meet three hours a day for four weeks. Sgt. Weigel assigns Soldiers homework relating to the lesson of the day. "We work out of individual lesson books based on what each students needs are and those areas are determined based on an initial TABE test," says Sgt. Weigel. After completing all the individual lessons, Soldiers have the option to take the GT test which roughly predicts their ASVAB score.
Sgt. Nikki Pettey, of Marysville, Wash., finished the most recent FAST class on 13 Feb and noted that she raised here score by four points. "I really enjoyed the class. It was a refresher course for me. Math isn't my strong subject and this class helped me out," says Sgt. Pettey of B Co 51st Signal Battalion (Expeditionary).
Practice tests are taken on a weekly basis, giving Soldiers the opportunity to track their improvements. Sgt. Weigel's students embrace his hands-on approach to teaching. "Whenever you need help he was there to explain and work the problem for you to understand," says Sgt. Pettey and adds, "I am the type of person that needs someone to show me how to work a problem and tell me what I'm doing wrong. He did a great job doing that."
Many Soldiers, like Sgt. Pettey, choose to further their education during deployment in order to keep their minds active and to change up the monotony of military work. The 304th SB fosters such efforts through the Strong and Ready Warrior Program initiated by Brigade Commander, LTC Norman B. Green and led by Chaplain (Cpt.) Peter Strong. "My desire is to see Soldiers take on leadership roles, especially NCOs. This is a perfect way for NCO's to help mentor their Soldiers and help them become promotable," says Chaplain (Cpt.) Strong.
The Strong and Ready Warrior Program institutes four pillars of a Soldier's growth: body, mind, emotions and spirit. These components work together to build the concept of personal improvement and bettering oneself during deployment.
Chaplain (Cpt.) Strong believes Sgt. Weigel's efforts tie directly into the "mind" pillar of the program and notes the significant impact of his classes. "What many people don't know is that if a Soldier can improve their GT score to a 110 or better, he or she can change their MOS and qualify for certain military schools. This opens the door for all kinds of opportunities for the Soldiers," says Chaplain (Cpt.) Strong.
Strengthening the mind through such classes as Sgt. Weigel's FAST directly affects the well-being of Soldiers and ultimately empowers their goals by providing countless career possibilities in the military and civilian side. For Sgt. Pettey, the class commenced her desire to start college courses when she returns home.
Sgt. Weigel plans to continue teaching until he leaves this coming summer. "I really enjoy getting to help other Soldiers. These classes are extremely focused on the individual and their learning habits which gives me the chance to learn a lot about the Soldier and how I can improve my teaching style," says Sgt. Weigel. He starts his next FAST class on 23 Feb.
Chaplain (Cpt.) Strong holds Sgt. Weigel's endeavors in high regard. "The Army has been well served by Sgt. Weigel," says Chaplain (Cpt.) Strong who is proud to see such strong, positive effects of the Strong and Ready Warrior program. "Through his work, we now have Soldiers who are motivated and enthusiastic about their role in the Army. They will be going home from deployment with a new outlook on military service."
STORY BY 1st LT. ANGELA ROKEY, 259TH CSSB PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
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