KILLEEN, Texas – A few Phantom Support soldiers from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) spent quality time with young students at East Ward Elementary Jan. 31 in what was the first chance for these soldiers to participate in “Club Days” at the school.
The school has several clubs in place for students to learn and practice various educational tools and explore their talents, such as line dancing, photography, bingo, chess, math, science, running, cooking and music.
At the chess club, Linda Nguyen, a first-grade teacher from Austin, Texas, engages students while they are involved in a one-on-one match as a coach and a mentor. Some of the students have been in the club since the previous school year.
She said they have become good enough to beat her. She also said having soldiers come into the school is a big difference-maker.
“When soldiers come in, the students are able to use what they know and what they have (with them),” said Nguyen discussing the experience the children enjoy with the soldiers. “It’s not just about having a degree and being a teacher, it’s about connecting with the kids and just being one on one with them.”
Spc. Breanna Cabaltera, an intelligence analyst assigned with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th SC(E), spent her morning with a very challenging opponent across her chess board. She said she was able to hold on for victory, but the young man gave her a real run for her money.
“It’s a lot of fun coming out here. It’s also nice knowing that you’re helping to make those kid’s day, so I definitely plan on coming back as often as I can,” said Cabaltera while helping to teach another student proper penmanship.
Many of the soldiers visiting had previously been to the elementary to support and help the unit’s adopted school with various functions.
Spc. Markus Small, a paralegal assigned to HHC, 13th SC(E), was visiting East Ward for the first time. He took advantage of the opportunity to get outside to run with kindergartners and first graders.
“This is a chance to get out and do something different,” said Small. “Just spending time with the kids, running and playing with them, seeing them smile and talking with them, it’s just fun.”
He spent much of his time trying to motivate the young children to finish a mile run, jogging alongside them providing a little extra inspiration. Even though many of the kids were worn out after their few laps around the parking lot to complete their mile, Small was ready to go for more and probably could have spent his entire day doing so.