PIE kicks off 12th year
Marcie C. Wright,
Fort Bliss has participated with schools around town as partners in education, and they celebrated their 12th year doing so Oct. 1.
At the ceremony at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center, school representatives were able to converse and plan events for the 2012-2013 school year. Some have been partnered with their sponsor unit for years with each commander continuing the legacy, while others are new campuses and formed new relationships.
Fort Bliss Garrison commander Col. Brant V. Dayley announced if any school in attendance was not yet partnered the Fort Bliss Garrison would gladly take them in. Given the amount of support local schools have continued to receive from this installation, no school was left without a partner, even prior to announcement.
Carlos Alberto Martinez, director of community and government relations, said the PIE program has been “very, very positive,” for his school district.
“It has enabled us to communicate in a more positive manner to support Army students as they transition into the school district,” said Martinez. “The Partners in Education program helps us to communicate a lot closer, a lot faster and it supports student success.”
Martinez has worked with EPISD for 40 years and said the program has been longstanding with Fort Bliss going back to Gen. John Pershing’s command here in the 1910s.
Part of the program was an awards ceremony for volunteers who logged the most hours, or otherwise did not care to log them, but were recognized as having significant contributions. Top Hours Award went to the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy for logging 4,160 volunteer hours while working with Milam Elementary School. Outstanding Volunteer Awards went to Spc. Christopher Palombo of 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, for implementing the “Buddy for a Day” program and continued support in school activities. A second Outstanding Volunteer Award was earned by Staff Sgt. Stephen Bundrea of the 93rd Military Police Battalion.
New this year was the Five Star Award, designated for an individual who has traveled the extra mile to make a significant impact in the lives of students through selfless acts and immeasurable volunteer efforts. This year’s winner was Capt. Ozzie S. Smith III of the 212th Fires Brigade.
Dayley said he supports the PIE program in more ways than one. During one of his previous assignments to Fort Bliss as a battalion commander, he remembered volunteering at the Nolan Richardson Middle School and how rewarding an experience it was.
“We served in several capacities. We worked on campus improvement, we participated on the PTO, we judged science fairs, supported Veterans Day, we did community service projects. We mentored students, and we did so many other things that tied us into that Nolan Richardson team, and our active participation there meant more to the Soldiers in my battalion than I believe Nolan Richardson would know.”
Dayley encouraged the group to “go above and beyond.” He hit on Soldiers as mentors and role models. He also discussed how schools support their PIE units by sending letters and care packages out during deployments.
“I hope that each and every one of you … that your experience this year is just as rewarding as it was for me [then].”
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