Military News

Thursday, January 14, 2016

JBER-wide school volunteer partnership benefits all

JBER Public Affairs

1/14/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Ursa Major Elementary School on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hosted their spelling bee Jan. 7 with Soldiers from the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion as the judges and Alaska Representative Dan Saddler as the announcer.

The Soldiers have an ongoing relationship with Ursa Major Elementary as part of the JBER Anchorage School District and partnership program, and the spelling bee is but one of the many ways the 17th CSSB is involved in the school.

"The goal of the SPP is to improve citizenship and the educational experience of students through exposure to positive role models, support of the academic studies and school activities, and support unit sponsorship and mentorship," said Adele Daniels, JBER School Liaison Officer.

"It's really about supporting a community that supports us," Daniels said.

The SPP began with U.S. Army Alaska in 2009, and spread throughout the entire installation when JBER became a joint base, Daniels said.

Now, there are 28 units or squadrons partnered with 29 different schools in the Anchorage School District.

"It's extremely helpful; we don't always have consistent parent volunteers available," said Helen Harmon, a primary resource teacher and this year's spelling bee coordinator. "We have a lot of dual-working families, so having an extra body in the classroom is a phenomenal help."

Depending on the school, the volunteers may be doing anything from sitting and listening to first grade children read to them, to sprinting down the track with high school students as a mentor in a running club.

"A lot of elementary schools have a fall carnival or a holiday family night," Daniels said.

"Troops will help the staff members plan, set up, and attend the event. Volunteers might run a game or a booth. From planning to the very end, they are involved in the whole thing."

JBER service members serve as mentors to young adults all around the community, serving as mentors and role models to students of all ages in after school clubs, family days, and the Junior ROTC. The benefits aren't just to the students, though.

"It's a very positive experience to give back in such a way," Daniels said.

"I think it's very empowering for our service members, because it's not meaningless; they are sitting with a student, mentoring them, watching their face light up when they master a new concept. To see they can have that level of impact is very empowering."

For more information on the SPP, contact your unit SPP representative or the School Liaison Office at 250-3265.

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