13th SC(E) Soldiers Help East Ward Elementary Students Study

Story and Photos by Pfc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th SC(E) Public Affairs

Soldier’s from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), helped students study for their upcoming Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Tests at Killeen Independent School District’s East Ward Elementary School Feb. 21.

The students engaged in a round-robin style training session, jumping every half-hour or so between different classrooms. Both teachers and Soldiers were on hand in each classroom to assist the students in various subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics.

Both the students and Soldiers wore long, bright strings of beads around their necks, in honor of the upcoming Mardi Gras celebration.

“I actually organized today’s Mardi Gras Super Saturday,” said Conniesue Wambsgans, fifth grade teacher, East Ward Elementary, “I think it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful for the Soldiers, it’s wonderful for our Students, it helps them communicate with people and work with people they wouldn’t normally get work with and because the military is such a big part of this community and it gives them an opportunity to meet a Soldier.”

Teachers were on hand to facilitate the learning experience for their students, but in some cases, hearing a new voice explain an old concept helped the students more.

“It’s very important, all the extra help we can give them is essential for their success. And it’s wonderful if we can have different people coming in because they can hear concepts from a different point of view or hear a different delivery which is excellent for our students,” said Wambsgans.

While the children were the obvious benefactors of the event, the Soldiers also had much to gain during the few hours they spent with the East Ward students.

“It’s great opportunity for us to help the children of Killeen,” said Spc. Rowena Smith, comptroller budge analyst, HHC, 13th SC(E), “This is our adopted school and we need to make our presence be known, they have a major test coming up and they need some help and we can provide it so we’re here for them.”

Both the students and the Soldiers were enthusiastic from the beginning, and they pursued the concepts to be learned with fervor.

“When the Soldier’s came this morning, I was very impressed with their eagerness, with their excitement, and of course the kids were excited, as well,” said Wambsgans.

“We’re having fun; it’s a pretty good way to spend a Saturday,” said Sgt. Richard Joliff, deputy commander’s administrative assistant, HHC, 13th SC(E). “I think it’s a really important for them to get to know us and it’s also rewarding for me to be able to get to know the community.”

The TAKS test is an important part of the curriculum because the student must pass the reading at the third grade level to be promoted to the fourth and they must pass both the reading and math at the fifth grade level to be promoted to the sixth.

“The TAKS exam is important because they must pass the exam to be promoted to the next grade and to be armed with the concepts they have to have mastery of in the next grade level,” said Wambsgans.

The students of East Ward Elementary learned a lot on Mardi Gras Super Saturday, beyond just their TAKS tests, perhaps they also gained personally from the chance to work with the Soldiers who are a part of their community.

Staff Sgt. Gloria Storey, supply sergeant, HHC, 13th SC(E), said, “These kid’s are the future leaders of America, and I feel it’s my obligation to help them, even though I’m a Soldier, to give back to the community and make sure the students understand what they need to do to be successful in life.”

 

Staff Sgt. Gloria Storey (photo)
Staff Sgt. Gloria Storey, a supply NCOIC, HHC, 13th SC(E), encourages Killeen Independent School District's East Ward Elementary School Students during their Mardi Gras Super Saturday study-session February 21 for their Upcoming TAKS exams. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Naveed Ali Shah, 13th SC(E) Public Affairs)

Spc. Rowena Smith (photo)
Spc. Rowena Smith, comptroller budget analyst, HHC, 13th SC(E), helps Killeen Independent School District's East Ward Elementary School Students during their Mardi Gras Super Saturday study-session February 21 for their upcoming TAKS exams. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Naveed Ali Shah, 13th SC(E) Public Affairs)