HOPEWELL, Va. – Local educators received a lesson in coping, calming and communicating skills during a July 29 presentation here facilitated by a training team from the Combined Arms Support Command Ready and Resilience Performance Center.
Dr. Lisa Pennycuff, Prince George County School District superintendent, described the health and wellness event as, “Another great opportunity for partnership with Fort Lee.” More than 50 educators from the district participated in the session that took place at the John Randolph Foundation Building in Hopewell.
“I feel like we have found a wonderful new resource that can help our students and our teachers in the future,” Pennycuff also observed. “Lessons learned on resiliency during the training transcend from the classroom to the daily lives of those in our community.”
Prince George is the assigned school district for military youths residing on Fort Lee.
Sgt. 1st Class Korento Leverette briefly discussed the background of the center he manages, what the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program does, and what led to the recent training event. He is in the process of transitioning to a new duty station. Staff Sgt. Christopher Arroyo is taking over management of the center.
“The Fort Lee performance center opened a little over a year ago,” Leverette said. “Our primary mission is to educate and qualify individuals to become Army Master Resilience Trainers.”
The MRT concept was born around 2011, emerging out of a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center. Using a “train-the-trainer” approach, it endeavors to reduce behavioral health problems through courses of study emphasizing resiliency and performance-enhancing skills such as goal-setting, energy management, problem-solving and effective communication.
“Our eight-member team facilitates the teaching of skills that can help individuals – typically Soldiers – navigate the trials and tribulations of military service as well as to thrive in any endeavor,” Leverette said.
Fort Lee School Liaison Officer Chaundra Taswell said Dr. Pennycuff is familiar with the CSF2 concept and inquired about the possibility of presenting such training during the educators’ conference.
“She felt the resiliency piece would be a great way to help cultivate positive working relationships and build upon her team’s esprit de corps,” Taswell said.
Leverette’s team was “thrilled about the opportunity.”
“Supporting local schools is so important to us here at Fort Lee,” he said. “Our kids attend these schools in Prince George County, so any time we are afforded the opportunity to give back to those who are giving so much to our kids; we definitely want to capitalize on that. Building positive relationships with the local community is one of the commanding general’s enduring priorities. It’s something we take pride in here at the R2 Performance Center.
The PGC educators were introduced to three key concepts during the presentation – the Activating Events, Thoughts and Consequences (ATC) Model; Hunt the Good Stuff; and Active Constructive Responding (ACR).
Briefly explained, the ATC Model is a way to identify events that could lead to positive or negative reactions. With that info, individuals can practice different ways to overcome bad reactions or thoughts, helping them avoid adverse consequences. The Hunt the Good Stuff exercise develops the practice of optimism and training oneself to consider the positives in any situation, even if the outlook is overwhelmingly negative. The ACR exercise defines the different types of responses people have when they receive information and ways individuals can influence meaningful dialogue.
“I’m impressed by the way they role-played the scenarios,” Dr. Pennycuff observed after the training. “I can see our teachers using that same technique – role-playing parts and practicing responses – when there is an activating event in the classroom. They can be thinking ahead of a way to best react to the scenario.”
Offering a final thought, the superintendent said she appreciates the diversity and richness of professionalism the Fort Lee military population brings to the Prince George area, and every educator in the district understands their opportunity to serve the populace of Fort Lee with quality service to military children and their families.