by Senior Airman Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs
8/26/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Sneakers,
boots and other footwear moved across pavement and hallways as hundreds
of children made their way back to school, returning to the education
that will help them in the future. Service members wanting to contribute
to that future have the opportunity to do so through the Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson School Partnership Program.
The partnership between JBER and the Anchorage School District began in
2009 with U.S. Army Alaska and expanded to the 673d Air Base Wing in
"The program is a way to provide positive role models in the school
setting and [is] a way to give back to the local community," said Adele
Daniels, 673d Force Support Squadron school liaison officer.
In previous years, more than 200 service members have volunteered their
time and knowledge to multiple elementary, middle and high schools
throughout the Anchorage area.
"Depending on what the principal of each school is interested in having
the student body learn, they may have service members participate in
career days for the students," Daniels said. "It's a way for them to
understand what our military members do in each of their jobs."
The service members express their gratitude by providing a look into military life.
"I heard about the program three years ago," said Sgt. Matthew Macarah, a
3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment paratrooper and a volunteer at
Gruening Middle and Alpenglow Elementary schools. "We had just come back
from a deployment. It was a perfect opportunity for me to work with
kids again. My excitement stemmed from being back in the school setting
and sharing the daily training activities of a paratrooper."
Macarah has a background in school administration and teaching in the Los Angeles education system.
Although the units stay the same, the personnel volunteering for the program come and go each school year.
"The only difference we have every year is the points of contact for
each of the units," Daniels said. "They typically go to another duty
location or have decided to put another individual in charge of the
program for their unit for that school year."
"We always have new volunteers helping and showcasing what they do in
their jobs," said Wendy Brons, Ursa Minor Elementary School principal.
Bronze added that the program is an excellent way for service members to
see how different the curriculum is now compared to when they were
going to school.
"Even if the individual volunteering is a young Soldier, there is so
much information that is new in the school system they never even knew
about while going through elementary school," Brons said.
Macarah said the interactions between the Soldiers, faculty and students have been very rewarding.
"Several of the volunteers have aspirations to become teachers," he
said. "By volunteering at [the local schools], the faculty is able to
help show the Soldiers exactly what to expect in their future careers."
Service members participate in the many activities at each school, by
reading to students and working out with the students during physical
For those who do not want to directly volunteer with students, there are other ways to get involved.
"We have so many different opportunities for a wide range of volunteers
who don't feel comfortable being with the students," Brons said.
These opportunities can be helping the librarian put books away, or by helping teachers get ready for each class.
Throughout the program, service members and students create lasting impacts.
"I think the program creates connections between the students and the
service members on a level that isn't like any other," Brons said. "When
these Soldiers walk into the classrooms with their uniforms on, the
students react in a positive manner."
Both military and civilian students have the opportunity to speak with
service members and understand what they do on a daily basis, Macarah
Bronze said she hopes the program will last and keep the connection between the military and school districts.
"I think this program is great, because it gets the adults in the
community to come in and get a realistic view of what really goes on at
school," Brons said. "I hope this partnership goes on so we keep that
connection of parents and the school system alive."
For more information about this program or other school-affiliated programs, contact the School Liaison Office at 384-1505.