FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 17, 2018) -- Along with other community groups in the Columbus, Georgia, area, military units from Fort Benning, Georgia, received recognition for their work partnering with local schools during the 2018 Partners in Education Awards May 10 in downtown Columbus.

The Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosted the evening event as a culmination for their Partners in Education (PIE) program for the 2017-2018 school year, highlighting joint school-community projects and partnerships.

Stefan Lawrence, the 2016 teacher of the year from Muscogee County School District, gave the keynote speech. He emphasized the importance of schools in the community and how crucial those partnerships were.

"Schools have always driven change, and they have always driven community," said Lawrence. "So schools in themselves should be a reflection of the community. The community should feel responsible for the successes of schools. They should celebrate those successes, and they should also feel responsibility for the failure of schools."

The chamber recognized PIE projects that aligned with the academic success factors of improving academic performance, growing career opportunities, enriching the life experience for the students, and faculty development and enrichment.

One of those projects, which helped to enrich the life experience for the students, was a learning garden project at Freddie Stowers Elementary School at Fort Benning. The partners in the project were 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment; Dental Health Activity at Fort Benning; Kinetic Credit Union and WRBL.

The project taught the students nutrition and the role math and science play in gardening.

In addition to specific projects, 10 PIE partnerships received recognition, two of which included units from Fort Benning, Georgia.

One of those partnerships was between Morris R. McBride Elementary School and 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment. The battalion formed the partnership around a theme for this year: "Patriots Pay it Forward: Operation Selfless Service."

First Lt. Breona Moses, the battalion's personnel officer, led the leadership school for the students, which included a physical fitness lesson.

"At some point we're going to be out of the Army, retired, moving on with our lives, and they're going to take our place," said Moses. "So we want to instill our Army values into them as well as values about life."

"We strive to develop various mindsets within the organization, and one of those mindsets is selfless service, and the mindset of giving back," said Lt. Col. Shawn Bault, the battalion commander. "In multiple ways we do that, and this is just one of the ways we do that for the community."

Another of the top ten partnerships was between Wilson Elementary School at Fort Benning and 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, who conduct the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course. Their partnership included 3,600 volunteer hours.

Stephanie Marley, Wilson's PIE coordinator, saw improvements in the students' math skills who participated in the "math troopers" program. She also attested to the student's enthusiasm for the many programs.

"They wanted to be a math trooper, they looked forward to book of the month, they looked forward to breakfast buddies," said Marley. "They enjoy the interaction."

Capt. Joshua Beneviat, 2-11th, also attested to the enthusiasm of the Soldiers participating, saying "everybody would jump at the chance to volunteer down there." He also said that volunteering was valuable for the Soldiers as a leadership development tool.

"It was a good exercise in mentoring and leadership and giving back to the community for my guys," said Beneviat. "They really liked it."

Other Fort Benning-school partnerships that made the top 10 included:
-- Baker Middle School and 316th Cavalry Regiment along with Cusseta Road Church of Christ, Southern Power, 4th Street Baptist Church, State Farm, The Columbus Times, Impacting Generations and Chattahoochee Valley Parent 2 Parent, LLC,
-- South Columbus Elementary and Warrior Transition Battalion along with CB&T and
-- Wynnton Arts Academy and 1st Battalion, 16th Cavalry Regiment, along with Junior League of Columbus, Communicorp, Wynnton UMC and Columbus Fire Station #6.

Military units at Fort Benning partner with schools from throughout the Chattahoochee County, Fort Benning, Harris County and Muscogee County school districts in Georgia and Phenix City and Russell County school districts in Alabama.

For more photos from the event, visit "PHOTO ALBUM" in the related links section on this page.