News: Soldiers take to local elementary, fill in for teachers
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Kucera
KILLEEN, Texas – Soldiers of the 13th Financial Management Center usually focus their attention on resource management and finance operations, but Feb. 2 they had the opportunity to step in as teachers and road guards while assisting their sponsored school, Ira Cross Elementary in Killeen.
During the annual Rotary Breakfast Day held at the school, approximately three dozen 13th FMC soldiers supervised and taught children and acted as road guards, under the strict supervision of teacher’s aides, while the regular teachers attended a breakfast and meetings.
The event was just one of many the 13th FMC assisted the school with. “The soldiers are mentors here, they’re also tutors, and many come at least once a week”, said Kalili Stanton, parent liaison and volunteer coordinator at the school. They also come in annually for this special event and take over the classroom as a substitute. “They help the kids in the classrooms with projects, but it’s also good for the kids with deployed parents to see the uniform,” she added.
Master Sgt. Gregory Perry, a financial management technician, was one of the participants in the event. He is a parent of a 12-year-old daughter and is all for supporting the school. He thought stepping in as teachers and interacting with the students will be an interesting experience for most of his young soldiers, who do not yet have any children of their own.
While 4th grade teacher Ashley Coots gave Staff Sgt. Ren Viray, also a soldier with the 13th FMC, the rundown on the morning lesson plan, several other troops from 13th FMC ran familiar traffic control points, or road guards in elementary school terms.
As parents approached the various intersections surrounding the campus, seeing a soldier in uniform holding a stop sign rather than the familiar crossing guard, took some by pleasant surprise. Many parents stopped to say good morning to the soldiers while entering and leaving the school parking lot.
Col. Archie Davis, 13th FMC director, said visiting the school benefits the community, the school itself, but more importantly benefits the kids. “I think it’s very imperative to continue to do what we can to assist our kids to insure they have an opportunity to receive a good education. And just being present, in uniform, reminds them of their mother or father, who may be downrange”, said Davis.
Perry thinks that participating in school sponsorship events should be mandatory, “it’s the right thing to do. As much as the communities support the Army and the installation, we have an obligation and moral right to give back.”
The teachers and students also take this special day to give a ‘thank you’ to the local businesses and their sponsoring Fort Hood unit for the time and donations they give throughout the year. Many of the soldiers continue to maintain presence on the campus, whether through mentoring the young students through school work and sports, or even planting shrubs and pulling weeds.
Perry would like to see a spring clean up and maybe running a morning physical fitness session for the students, as part of the unit’s future sponsorship events.