By Kristin Molinaro, The BayonetJuly 30, 2009
FORT BENNING, GA - "This event introduced the teachers to what the parents of some of their students go through on a daily basis," said Jim Sims, principal of Chattahoochee County High School. "Some of the teachers had hesitations going into the first challenge, but I give them credit, they mustered up."
The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, brought together nearly 50 Chattahoochee County school workers for a Partners in Education event July 28 to help them prepare for the school year.
The educators and workers put their skills to the test Monday at Fort Benning's Leadership Reaction Course.
Originally known as the "Adopt-A-School" program, Partners in Education provides opportunities to improve education in the greater Columbus area by community involvement in the public school system, according to the Greater Columbus PIE Web site.
One of the goals of the event was to build unity and cohesion within the teaching staff, Sims said.
"We brought together people who don't normally work together," he said.
The 1st Bn. (Airborne), 507th PIR, has conducted several events with Chattahoochee County schools in the past, but this is the first time school workers were invited to post.
"In the past, we've helped the high school with donations, banquet awards ceremonies, college fairs and giving classes on attaining goals," said MSG Christopher Goodrow, operations NCOIC.
"We invited them here to give them exposure to what we do."
The event began in the morning with the "Airborne 5000" demonstration. New students at the Airborne School sat alongside the school workers to get their first taste of what Airborne School offers. After watching the demonstration, teachers loaded up in busses and headed to the Leadership Reaction Course.
At the obstacle course site, teachers were divided into six teams to complete three of six possible challenges. Each challenge encouraged participants to work as a team to brainstorm and execute the mission, said CPT Michael Rybacki, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn. (Airborne), 507th PIR.
Most of the challenges involved the teachers making bridges over pools of water using long boards, ropes and ammunition containers. One challenge involved crossing a "land mine" zone using steel cylinders and another had teams climbing steel poles to cross a body of water.
Frank Saunders, a special education and math teacher at the high school, said a good lesson to take away from the experience was that in any situation people could contribute positively.
"We all have strengths and weaknesses," said Saunders, whose team completed two of the challenges. "You have to find a person's strengths and utilize everyone."
"You get to see what Soldiers go through and it gives you a lot of respect for them," said Nancy Harden, a special education secretary for Chattahoochee County.
Harden said lessons learned at the Leadership Reaction Course event tie into educating students.
"It takes a lot of different minds coming together to get through these challenges, just like many teachers must come together to give students a great education," she said.
Sims said he hopes this will become an annual event for the school workers.
"This is building pride and spirit in our school," he said.