COLUMBUS, Ga. (Feb. 1, 2019) - Drill sergeants and other cadre members from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Benning, Georgia, participated in several physical fitness classes Feb. 1 at Midland Middle School in Columbus, Georgia.

The event was a part of Fort Benning's Partners in Education program, which promotes continued partnerships between the military units and schools within seven school districts of Columbus, Georgia, Phenix City, Alabama, and the surrounding community.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan St. Armour, who has been a drill sergeant with C Co., 1-46, for seven months, has attended three different PIE events and believes it is important to continue to foster lasting partnerships within the local area.

"We come out here to build trust and relationships within the community," St. Armour said. "I feel like I'm a part of a bigger team when the children are influenced, and perhaps we can build positive relationships with them for later on in the future."

St. Armour added his interactions with basic trainees on a daily basis helps him relate to younger, middle school children as well.

"I use my interpersonal communications skills and what I was taught with training trainees and put that towards the kids," he said. "Depending on the types of personalities and Soldiers we have in basic, we can use those experiences to relate to the kids."

The experience is twofold as St. Armour said the children are always excited to see them.

"The kids always ask us questions about the military and our uniforms, and a lot of the kids tell me they even want to join the service," St. Armour said.

Jeremiah Edwards, a physical education teacher and the athletic director for the school, also said the students love it every time the Soldiers come out to participate in their classes. He added the interactions help to break stigmas that may be associated with service members.

"A lot of the times kids think the military is very serious because that's what they see on TV," Edwards said. "However, once the children start getting engaged and start socializing with them and see the Soldiers joking and laughing, they love it. When they see them, they see job opportunities, and they think, 'Oh, I can do this and have fun.'"

Edwards, who grew up on and attended school at Fort Benning, is thankful that his students get to see what Fort Benning has to offer and hopes to continue to maintain a lasting relationship.

"Please keep coming back because I love it, the kids love it, and we love to have ya'll out," Edwards said.