By Sgt. Thomas Duval, 1-25th SBCT PAOSeptember 19, 2012
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (Sept. 19, 2012) -- U.S. Army Alaska renewed its commitment to a strong relationship with the local Fairbanks community during the third annual School Partnership Program's Memorandum of Agreement signing at the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District building, Sept. 10.
"This small ceremony represents the Army's commitment to taking an active and visible role in improving the education of our children and supporting our local schools," said U.S. Army Alaska Commander Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett. "The Military in Alaska is very fortunate to have a strong bond with our civilian community. We are grateful for the unwavering support we receive from area businesses, government agencies, and local residents. We are extremely pleased to be able to enter this partnership for a third straight year."
The program partners local schools with Fort Wainwright units and provides Soldiers the opportunity to volunteer their time in a variety of activities.
Some of those activities include: JROTC programs, dental health classes, wounded warrior luncheons, and field trips on the military installation. The Soldiers also get the opportunity to work with the students in a more traditional sense.
The Soldiers help with math, science, and with the winter months rapidly approaching they will assist with outdoor education and survival classes.
Garrett said he hopes U.S. Army Alaska Soldiers can use their past experiences to help to help educate the students.
"Our goal for this partnership is to establish a long-lasting relationship with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District to improve the citizenship and learning experiences of our children through four main components: mentorship, leadership training, unit-school partnership, and parental involvement," he said. "I believe our Soldiers have a lot to offer. Many have been stationed around the globe and have some very interesting stories about the people, the geography, the different religions, and the unique cultures things that many children are just beginning to read about in their textbooks."
The partnership, which was created by former U.S. Army Alaska commander, Lt. Gen. William Troy, has seen a high level of success over the past three years.
According to U.S. Army Alaska and the North Star Borough School District, nearly 100 registered volunteer Soldiers contributed approximately 1,800 hours at 10 separate schools within the district.
Although impressive, Garrett said he plans to boost these numbers by enlisting the help of the battalion commanders and sergeants major.
Leading the pack with seven individual battalions actively engaged with the local schools is Col. Brian Reed, commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Reed, who previously commanded the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, during a year-long deployment to Iraq said he understands the importance of having a strong supportive relationship with the local community.
"The whole community partnership piece is important to what we do here," Reed said. "The community is one of the most supportive in the Army so anything we can do to strengthen that partnership is important."
"I cannot overemphasize the importance of giving back to the schools that have contributed so much to our military families," Garrett said. "Our schools provide a stabilizing force for our children at a time that it is greatly needed."
It won't take long for the Soldiers to capitalize on the opportunity to help the local community as some units have already made plans to collaborate later this month.