FORT BUCHANAN, PR -- The Commanding General for the 81st Readiness Division and USAG Fort Buchanan Senior Commander, Maj. Gen. Jami C. Shawley visited the installation March 15-16, 2021 to observe the reopening of Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools.
She was part of the group comprised of Fort Buchanan Garrison Commander, Col. Joseph B. Corcoran III; Deputy Garrison Commander, Lt. Col. Brian Mandock and Garrison Command Sergeant Major José A. Banks and DODEA-Puerto Rico Community Superintendent, Dr. Jacob Sherwood.
Dr. Sherwood pointed out that despite the result of DODEA’s parent survey that showed approximately half of the group supporting face-to-face interaction versus continuing in the virtual education mode, over 80% of the students returned to the classroom environment. “Parents were excited to have the kids back at school. We want parents, school personnel and Fort Buchanan command group to feel comfortable with the preventive measures we are following,” he said.
The visit started at Antilles Elementary School (AES) where the Senior Commander was greeted by the school principal Lydia Blázquez. She showed the color-coded system implemented throughout the school to comply with COVID-19 preventive measures. Information posted around the elementary school (as well as middle and high schools) consistently emphasized the use of a facemask, hand sanitizer and keeping six feet apart from each other. Maj. Gen. Shawley said that she prefers using the term “physical distance because we never stop socializing. We can still socialize being six feet apart from each another.”
At Antilles Middle School (AMS), school principal, Luldes Giraud, showed other rules and procedures such as closing all the water fountains, except those used to fill water bottles and conducting 10-minute “mask breaks” outdoors throughout the day (same initiative is implemented at the high school). Maj. Gen. Shawley was impressed with the preventive measures around AMS.
Cadets from the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) Program at Antilles High School (AHS) greeted Maj. Gen. Shawley. She recommended to the cadets that “while you are in an elite group for your age, you must focus on the part of leadership and most important, have empathy. You must think about your Soldiers, their Families and the community. You must be the leader for your community regardless of what you choose.”
During an interview by AHS Junior students for the school’s “Pirates” newspaper, Maj. Gen. Shawley recognized Women’s History Month and her experience being the first female pilot in her group by saying:
“When you are the first of something, you are the only of something. That puts more pressure on yourself. It’s not about kicking the glass ceiling [She used this metaphor that represents an invisible barrier or obstacle that keeps a given demographic group (in this case women) from rising beyond a certain level in the organizational hierarchy], but kicking the door [of opportunity],” Maj. Gen. Shawley concluded.