Members of the Kansas Community College Leadership Institute Leadership Development Course visited Fort Riley March 14 for a tour of DePuy Hall and Wainwright Hall. The purpose of the tour was to highlight Barton Community College's partnership with Fort Riley and to expose future community college leaders to the educational needs of Soldiers, veterans and families.The group started their tour at DePuy Hall, 8388 Armistead St., where Steve Crusinberry, director, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, talked about Military Schools and the partnerships Fort Riley has in place to train Soldiers. The whole Fort Riley Military Schools program is designed on partnership, he said."There's no standard formula for how Military Schools are constructed on an installation," he said. "So, the way we've cracked the code here on Fort Riley is there's really a triangle that forms the basis of the schools program itself."The 1st Infantry Division team provides oversight over the schools program in general, he said. They make sure Fort Riley stays current with Army doctrine and correct courses are being taught which not only keep with what the Army wants, but also what 1st Inf. Div., wants taught to ensure the readiness of Soldiers. They also make sure Soldiers are attending the courses, he said.At the garrison level, Robert Hart, DPTMS chief of Military Schools, provides oversight of the schools. He provides the curriculum and schedules the courses. He is also the one who coordinates with Barton Community College who provides the instructors for the courses, Crusinberry said."On the outside (of the triangle) we've got the Army Materiel Command Logistics Readiness Center that provides us with deployment training expertise," he said. "So, they'll look at and when they develop new systems, see new systems, they'll interject themselves into the process so that we are providing the right training here at Fort Riley."Additionally, we've got the Fort Riley Education Center," he said. "Shirley Ferguson and her team they're looking out at all of the Soldiers, all the training that's been conducted and they're making sure they're capturing all of those classes. They're looking at Soldier records so that when that Soldier gets ready to go out, you can take that stuff and apply it to what? Well, college credit and degrees from other universities so it's fantastic."Crusinberry closed out the triangle by explaining what the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program does for the Soldier's educational needs."Where it all works out is over with Mitch Foley ( transition services manager, SFL-TAP) and his crew," he said. "They're putting those Military Schools credits to work providing our Soldiers with employment when they get out of here."
The Schools program on Fort Riley has been hailed as one of the best in the Army. During a visit to the installation in 2017, Maj. Gen. Pat Matlock, former Department of the Army, director of training, said Fort Riley Military Schools "are unique and provide the Army with a model for future troop schools structure."Former students of the Military Schools program spoke to the attendees including retired Col. John D. Lawrence, former U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley commander. He talked about his experience as a young Soldier at Fort Riley and having gone through every course the 1st Inf. Div., had to offer."In the '80s, I learned about a new community college that had come to Junction City, Kansas, that's how long ago this was," he said with a chuckle. "The college was actually down on Grant Avenue at that point. So, I went down, and I talked to an advisor, and they started talking to me about some of the courses I've taken. And then they started talking to me about what I wanted to do."He said the courses he took in the Military Schools program led him to receive a degree from Barton Community College and the ability to apply to Officer Candidate School. Barton Community College continued to contribute to Lawrence's education each time he returned to Fort Riley."So, bottom line is Barton, throughout my time, from 18 to the age I am now, has been there for me," he said. "And as a Soldier, that is important, as I have been all over the world, there is no other. And I can tell you this, there is no other partnership like we have here."After a brief tour of the classrooms in DePuy Hall, the group departed for a presentation at Education Services, 211 Custer Ave.Seated in the auditorium, the group was introduced to representatives from the Consortium of Colleges and Universities on Fort Riley. After hearing from the representatives, two students were invited to speak about their experience with the consortium and what they achieved both personally and educationally.Vera Gaer, wife of Staff Sgt. Christopher Gaer, 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, talked about where she came from and what motivated her to go back to school."I got pregnant when I was (17) and I decided that I didn't want my daughter to think that I was a loser," she said. "So, I went back to high school and I graduated with a 3.7 GPA and was given scholarship opportunities. But, when you come from an uneducated family, you don't know what those mean. And you don't have anybody to tell you what they are. So, I didn't go to college."After her job paid for her to go to college for a retail management certification -- and two more children -- she came to Fort Riley. She said she heard about Barton Community College and thought it would be fun and started taking classes. She said she met some amazing instructors who encouraged her to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society."So, I started working toward my degree, which I finished this year," she said. "I was the president of this chapter of PTK and it has been an amazing ride. But anyways, I just I love this place. And coming from where I come from, I never in a million years thought I would be going where I am going. So where am I going? To be a teacher."She said she will be graduating with her daughter who is also going to school to be a teacher.
After a tour of the Education Services building, attendees went to Riley's Conference Center for dinner with the deputy garrison commander, Timothy Livsey, where he talked about the importance of partnerships in the education of Fort Riley Soldiers and the upcoming Combined Graduation May 23.