By Sgt. Karl Williams, 3HBCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsApril 21, 2009
KILLEEN, Texas -Maxdale Elementary School students will be encountering some distinctive visitors in their classrooms in the coming weeks.
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have made a commitment to volunteer every week to tutor through the battalion's Adopt-a-School program.
Capt. Santos Arroyo, 3BSTB's Rear Detachment commander, said when he was commander of Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 3rd BSTB, 1st Cav. Div. last year, he learned that the battalion sponsored MES.
"To be honest, last year I wanted to get some volunteer Soldiers to help out at the school but training and deployments priorities made it difficult. Now in rear detachment, we have a little more flexibility in the schedule, which allow for volunteers to go out to the school," said Arroyo from Vega Alta, Puerto Rico.
Paula Finnessey, MES's principal, added that it sends a positive message to students about the other responsibilities that soldiers play in the community.
"We enjoy having the Soldiers come in and assist our teachers with classroom academic activities, and our students love having them participate in their learning. It gives them someone else to interact with," said Finnessey from Belton, Texas. "It also allows the students to be divided into smaller group, which allows them to receive more individualizes attention."
The Soldiers help students with literacy activities or work with students on specific skills at a math, science, or social studies station.
"It's very different from when I went to school," said Pfc. Elizabeth Mendoza, a 3rd BSTB supply specialist from East Chicago, Ind. "The students here really want to show you how much they have learned by reading to you or showing you something they can do."
For Cecilia Gonzales, an 8-year-old, third grader, whose father is also a Soldier, it's "cool" having them around.
"They help us learn and understand things more, and we don't have to be afraid of them," said Cecilia Gonzales, an 8-year-old, third grader. "My dad is in the Army and it's nice to see Soldiers at school helping us.