Picatinny officials aim to bolster ties with local schools, offer STEM-related tours

By Eric KowalMarch 1, 2023

In the above and below photos:  During a February 16 visit to area schools, Lt. Col. Alexander Burgos, Picatinny Arsenal garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Anderson, Picatinny Arsenal garrison command sergeant major, along with 1st Lt. Kamdin Hueg, operations officer, North Jersey Recruiting Company, speak with school administrators.
In the above and below photos: During a February 16 visit to area schools, Lt. Col. Alexander Burgos, Picatinny Arsenal garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Anderson, Picatinny Arsenal garrison command sergeant major, along with 1st Lt. Kamdin Hueg, operations officer, North Jersey Recruiting Company, speak with school administrators. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Picatinny Arsenal officials recently visited several neighboring public schools in an effort to help foster a partnership between school administrators and the Picatinny Arsenal Command Team and Child and Youth Services (CYS).

Because students from military families who live in Picatinny housing are typically enrolled in these schools, the team from Picatinny coordinated the visits to get a better understanding of how they can assist each other.

During the February 16 visits, Lt. Col. Alexander Burgos, Picatinny Arsenal garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Anderson, Picatinny Arsenal garrison command sergeant major, along with 1st Lt. Kamdin Hueg, operations officer, North Jersey Recruiting Company, visited three area schools.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The military trio were joined by Jessica Crespo, Picatinny Arsenal CYS coordinator, and Amanda Dizinno, assistant director, CYS.

“As Picatinny Arsenal continues to find ways to engage our surrounding community, we wanted to take the time to ensure a close relationship with the schools that support the military families on the installation,” said Burgos.

Throughout these tours, school administrators showcased various programs that each school offers, as well as engaged in discussions about current challenges that students sometimes face.

“Military families, especially the kids, go through difficult transitions when moving to a new duty location,” Burgos said. “One thing we learned was that the New Jersey education system is number one in the country, which at times means that students that relocate here for the first time might not be at the academic level of their peers. So, understanding what the schools have to offer these students to support their development, is critical in making sure the transition is not as stressful as it could be,” the garrison commander added.

The Picatinny Arsenal team also wanted to inform local school administrators about how the installation can offer a new educational perspective for students.

“We also want administrators to be aware of the critical science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) aspects happening at Picatinny,” Burgos said. “We can schedule tours so the students can see the awesome work being done here. The Introduce a Girl to Engineering event held on the Arsenal on February 23 is a perfect example of what we can do to educate and promote the value of STEM in their academic pursuits.”

Support strategies were also discussed by the Picatinny CYS team, such as helping to provide additional training opportunities for school personnel in the topics of resilience, and discussing the unique challenges that military children, youth, and families face.

“I was surprised to see all of the amazing resources and courses available to the children and youth that can provide them with a number of real-world experiences, such as auto mechanics, television programming, and electrical trades,” Dizinno said of local school offerings.

“We also hope that this visit is the first of many and will cultivate a continuous and supportive partnership between the Rockaway Township School Districts and Picatinny Arsenal Military and CYS Communities,” she added.

As a result of the meeting, Picatinny’s CYS School Support Services team will be providing training to one of the elementary schools on Feb. 27, which will focus on facilitating the transition of students from military families into a new academic setting.