Community education meetings strengthen partnerships

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 7:56 am

While Tennessee Valley students gear up for another year of reading, writing and arithmetic, Team Redstone is also doing its part to prepare for the 2013-14 school year by strengthening its partnerships with local schools.

“The schools’, especially middle and high school, focus this year is making students more college and career ready,” Barbara Williams, school liaison officer, said. “What’s exciting for me is that we, being Team Redstone, have a great opportunity to be a part of that also.”

The future of Redstone Arsenal lies in the classroom, and that is exactly where Williams’ work is beginning this year, with the teachers who shape, teach and mold that future work force. Approximately 135 teachers from across the area’s nine counties will have the opportunity to see firsthand the educational partnerships available to them on the Arsenal, at Team Redstone’s inaugural Back to School Professional Development Opportunity for Teachers, on Thursday.

“We wanted to start our school year with acclimating teachers to what Redstone has to offer, and the possibility of partnering with organizations and commands to expose students to what we have here and how they can incorporate that or align that with their curriculum and what they’re doing in the classroom,” Williams said. “As we prepare them to be college and career ready, students can get an idea of the different paths available through the organizations and commands here, and how to work toward that.”

From 7 a.m. to noon Thursday, teachers have the opportunity to not only hear from Arsenal leaders, but participate in hands on activities at Redstone Test Center, Marshall Space Flight Center’s Payload Operations Center, and AMRDEC’s Software Engineering Directorate. The lessons they learn during their day on the Arsenal they can later relay to their students in the classroom. Through the Team Redstone Education Outreach program they’ll also be able to bring their students back to the installation to experience those same simulations.

“This teacher in-service opportunity, Redstone tour, will provide information about science, technology, engineering and math and related fields, so that teachers understand the connection between what’s being taught in the classroom today, future jobs and how to prepare their students to get to a particular career field,” Williams said.

Thursday’s teacher in-service day is not the only way Team Redstone reaches out to partner with educators throughout North Alabama. For the past several years, and continuing through Garrison commander Col. Bill Marks’ command, Garrison Quarterly Education Meetings have brought together Arsenal leadership, local principals, administrators and other individuals invested in the area’s schools to discuss concerns, as well as the latest and greatest in education.

“We compete for talent with other institutions all over the nation; we need the best,” Marks said. “That’s why it’s absolutely essential to Redstone’s mission that we are able to keep our best and brightest students right here at Redstone. This partnership helps us to foster an interest in our operations.”

Past meetings have included performances by school choirs, a forum on the challenges facing military children as they move from school to school, and a presentation by Mary Keller, CEO and president of the Military Child Education Coalition. The quarterly luncheons are not only an opportunity for attendees to learn more, but to simply talk with one another.

“We get to hear about the great things that are going on in the schools, so when our families come to Redstone I’m not the only person who can speak about our innovative schools and what they have to offer,” Williams said. “We get a lot as well as we give a lot. We share information about grant opportunities for schools, resources that families can use, training that school personnel can receive through the Army, the list goes on. It’s so much that’s good – good networking, good relationships, good partnerships.”

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