By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 28, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- As the fall season officially starts, Fort Rucker children are well into the school year, and although elementary students are currently in a temporary facility, they're receiving a top-notch education.
"It's been a remarkable transition," said Dr. Vicki Gilmer, principal of Fort Rucker Schools. "We've really adapted to our new environment and we've made The Village our home. It's really a great atmosphere. It's like we just packed up the elementary school and put it here."
Gilmer said that feedback from parents and students has been overwhelmingly positive.
The school site houses four grade levels -- third through sixth -- and has all the amenities that are expected in any elementary school, including a gymnasium, playgrounds and cafeteria, and alt-hough the site is well equipped to handle the educational needs of students, moving into the new facility was still an adjustment.
"The biggest adjustment to begin with was using the space and making sure we made the most out of every space," said the principal. "We've carved out spaces for our learning labs and carved out spaces for our robotics team, because we wanted to make sure we were still able to do those functions."
For Marcia Jones, FRES math instructional support teacher, the growing pains were minimal when moving to the new facility. As an educator for 20 years, 19 of which were in the old ele-mentary school, the hardest part for her was leaving a place that she felt was like home.
"You drive up somewhere and park in the same parking spot for 19 years, and then all of the sudden you're coming to a different location and different building, so it was an adjustment but it wasn't bad, it was just different," she said. "But so far it's been great. We pretty much hit the ground running. We got moved in and I think the teachers here have done a fabulous job of turn-ing The Village here into a great school environment.
"The teachers here do a fantastic job of trying to do what's best for the children," she continued. "Dr. Gilmer supports us so much, and I think it's easier to do our job because we have such a fan-tastic instructional leader. We support each other professionally and personally, and that makes all the difference."
That level of support doesn't just extend to faculty, but to students, as well, and for students like Braden Grant and Kara Druilhet, sixth graders, that support has made the transition seamless.
"The only real difference is there are just more buildings when in the other school there were only two, but it's kind of the same because all of the teachers are here and Dr. Gilmer is here," said Druilhet. "I like how everybody here is positive and just tries to work with what they've got at this temporary school. It just feels like a normal school and I just like how everybody is really positive here and all the teachers are willing to work with you."
Druilhet attended FRES last year in the old facility, but for Grant, it's his first year on Fort Rucker, but despite being in the temporary facility, he's loved his experience so far.
"My favorite part about the school is the teachers because I like to learn," he said. "I like that the teachers that I've met are really nice and get you straight to learning."
That dedication to exceptional education and the commitment of the faculty and teachers are what Jones said sets Fort Rucker schools apart.
"Every day we just come here and try to do the best that we can for the students to try and pro-mote the highest student achievement that we can get," she said. "We support the children and we support each other."
"We're just very appreciative of all the support from our families and from the Fort Rucker com-munity," added Gilmer. "The garrison has been wonderful and everyone has supported us and supported the kids. It's been a remarkable transition, and the teaching and learning is still going on at an exceptional level and it's just a neat place to be."
The groundbreaking for the new school is set for Oct. 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the site of the old school.