4th CMMC Adopt-A-School
Story by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office
Over 700 young students attend Hay Branch Elementary School on Rancier Avenue each day. 742, to be exact. These students begin classes 10 minutes before 8:00 a.m. and remain at school until 3:15 p.m.
For more than 36 hours a week, these children are under the care of teachers and school administrators who carry the huge burden of educating the nation's youngest generation.
The teachers and administrators of Hay Branch Elementary are not alone, however. The Soldiers of the 4th Corps Materiel Management Center, 13th Corps Support Command, are actively involved in their unit's Adopt-A-School program. Every Thursday, men and women of the 4th visit the school to encourage students to make the most of the opportunity to receive an education.
On any given Thursday, Soldiers of the CMMC can be seen leaning over the desks of fifth graders, checking their class work and providing assistance as the students answer questions about geography, reading and other subjects.
"It's really exciting to go [to Hay Branch]…" said Capt. Carla Whitlock, adopt-a-school point of contact for the CMMC. "to have a presence there."
The Soldiers' presence there has a huge impact on the students' lives, said Hay Branch parent liaison Donna Campbell.
"It gives the kids another person to interact with," the liaison said. "[The students] respond differently to new people."
Hay Branch has teachers and teachers' assistants who teach the children the same lessons, but with different techniques. Repetition helps the students retain the information more effectively, the liaison said. So when Soldiers arrive and help reiterate the lessons, the youngsters have an even greater probability of remembering and understanding what they've been taught. This gives the students more chance of success in education and life itself.
The Soldiers are not only there to help with class work, though. They are also there as role models and overall support for the students and the school as a whole. Special occasions are often celebrated together. Field day, career day, Black History Month observances and other special events offer a variety of ways for the Soldiers to get involved. For instance, for Thanksgiving, Soldiers served lunch to the students.
"We offered to serve the children with smiles," Whitlock said of herself and her fellow Soldiers. "It was fun! We kept the line rolling!"
Afterward, however, Whitlock and the others were sore from standing so long on their feet.
Spc. Alan Heady was one of the Soldiers who joined Whitlock for Thanksgiving lunch at the school. The specialist, who has been through intense military training, said he could not remember being so sore - and just from serving lunch to elementary students.
"I have a new respect for cafeteria [workers]!" Whitlock exclaimed.
"We volunteer our services … and resources such as water buffaloes, and invite them on post to let them see what we do," the captain continued.
In return, the school supports the Soldiers of the CMMC. During the unit's recent deployment to New Orleans in support of Joint Task Force Katrina, students sent care packages and letters to the Soldiers.
Spc. Dominic Evans, of the 4th Corps Materiel Management Center, 13th Corps Support Command, helps two fifth graders at Hay Branch Elementary School with their class work December 15 as part of the unit's Adopt-A-School program. Every Thursday, Soldiers of the CMMC visit the school to provide encouragement and support to the students and their teachers. Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Specialist