Fort Bliss kicked off its 2017 Partner in Education Program at the Centennial Club by joining soldiers with campuses to strengthen the ties between the installation and area school districts.
Soldiers and principals, military family liaisons and other campuses leaders sat together to foster their relationship as Partners in Education and discuss activities and events scheduled for the school year.
“Our soldiers have been and will continue to be involved in a variety of projects and campus routine activities aimed at improving the safety, well-being, and academic performance of students,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Landes. “Soldiers dedicated over 10,000 hours during the 2016-2017 academic school year and will continue to increase this support as the Partners in Education program evolves with changing needs.”
Landes encouraged “maximum participation by each brigade.”
“Our mission is to encourage each student to strive for personal excellence and to ensure all students learn to function, contribute, and compete as responsible individuals,” he said. “We can accomplish this by providing challenging learning experiences that promote literacy, increase self-esteem, and maximize educational opportunities. I invite all present to go above and beyond your partnership commitment by responding to campus and district assistance requests. It is an honor for Fort Bliss to be involved in the education of the youth of this community.”
Fort Bliss partners with campuses throughout the region, mostly at schools where military family members are enrolled. Many schools look to their partner for assistance with science fairs, festivals, tutoring, mentoring and other campus activities and events. Powell principal Andrew Veilleux is looking to his partners for mentoring and hopes to have his students go on post to explore STEM careers. He also sees the partnership as another tool to support social emotional learning.
“The partnership another is an other extension of the social emotional learning we promote at the school,” Veilleux said. “By learning about the soldiers and community, it tells us a lot about the students and how we can help them.”
EPISD serves nearly 6,000 military-connected students. EPISD also operates five campuses on military property: Bliss, Milam, Powell, Logan elementary schools and Chapin High School.
“With about 10 percent military-connected kids from Fort Bliss in EPISD, we have a vested interest in the future of education in El Paso for our military kids,” said Col. Alan Wiernicki, former Fort Bliss liaison to the Board of Trustees. “This is one of the strongest partnerships I’ve seen in my 25 years in the military.”
Wiernicki also calls his headquarters a natural partner with Chapin because of the campuses location and its engineering magnet.
“In many cases the soldiers are fairly senior and have advanced degrees and they can apply engineering skills or advance degrees to help mentor the students at Chapin High School,” he said.
The PIE program also gives soldiers an opportunity to get to know the El Paso community better.
“We move around a lot and every community we come into is home,” Wiernicki said. “Anytime we can get our soldiers to volunteer in the community and do something other than their military role says something about the values we espouse in the army and helps connect us to the community we happen to call home at the time.”