By Erin Murray, Army Flier Staff WriterJanuary 6, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Teachers and staff at the Fort Rucker Primary School helped keep deployed Soldiers in touch with students and gave spouses a chance to connect at the Deployment Tea Dec. 15.
"We try to keep in contact with the parents, even when they're away. It's easier now in the 21st century for the parents to feel like they're a part of their child's education. The tea is just a small event to bring the parents together. More so than anything, it's a time for them to get together and talk," said Mietta Hammond, guidance counselor at the school.
The Deployment Teas are held each semester for spouses of Soldiers who also have children enrolled at the primary school. The tea is coordinated by many different members of the school staff in order to keep Soldiers informed.
"Our school motto is together we can. It's not just the guidance office, but the whole school working together. We want parents to know that they can participate in their child's education, even when they're deployed. It helps morale for the deployed Soldier and it helps us because they get support from all of their Family," said Hammond.
Included in the school's program for deployed Soldiers is a monthly newsletter, "Corresponding from A to Z", that is emailed to the Soldiers by Yvette Esteves-Hurst, a Spanish teacher at the school. Esteves-Hurst shared the newsletters with spouses and explained the process of compiling a notebook of newsletters for students, spouses and Soldiers.
"Mrs. Esteves-Hurst does an excellent job of communicating with our parents who are deployed through personal email newsletters, highlighting the children's accomplishments and general classroom activities," said Sylvia Thornton, music teacher at the school.
Along with refreshments and conversation, the spouses at the Deployment Tea received gift bags filled with tools to help them through the months of deployment and information on the school's upcoming tribute to Soldiers in theater and abroad.
Starting in January, a deployment tree will be in the lobby of the school. The tree will have white lights, yellow ribbons and ornaments with a picture and information for each deployed parent with a child at the school
"The deployment tree is to let the whole school respect and honor what your Soldiers are doing over there. The whole school respects and honors everything Soldiers and Families do," said Katie Condon, a kindergarten teacher and the coordinator for the deployment tree.
Guests at the event included spouses, their children and even a very special guest, 1st Sgt. Jim Van, who recently returned from Honduras. Van said that it was nice to see how the tea keeps spouses in touch.
"It brightened up my day when I was deployed. It's a really great thing to look forward to while you're way," he said.