Marines, community are partners in education
By Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint
| | November 21, 2003
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Physical training builds character, promotes physical fitness and increases unit camaraderie, but it also helps Marines build relationships with San Diego schools.
The Partnership in Education program allows Depot Marines to visit schools and participate in local physical education programs.
The mission of the program is to provide positive role models to help keep students in school, off drugs, in shape and out of gangs.
The Marines participating in the program establish positive relationships with students and faculty members.
"The program helps teach Marines life skills through volunteering and community involvement," said Staff Sgt. Christine M. Reliford, chief cook, Food Service Division. "It reaffirms our commitment of winning battles and returning solid citizens back to the community."
This year's program consists of visits to Taft Middle School and Holmes Elementary School every other Tuesday throughout the school year.
The visits allow the Marines to participate in each school's physical education program.
This creates a unique, and fun dynamic for the Marines, according to Sgt. Frank A. Santiago, administrative chief, Headquarters Company.
"I felt like a kid again," said Santiago , about his experience playing capture the flag with second graders at Holmes. "This program is awesome."
Because of the age differences at the schools, Marines participate in a variety of activities ranging from hopscotch and wall ball to floor hockey and ultimate Frisbee.
Along with being an adrenaline-pumping experience for many Marines, the program also proves to be a winner among Taft school administrators.
"It's great," said Barbra Balser, principal, Taft Middle School, about the Marines participation in the physical education program. "I had a student come up to me when the Marines walked passed and say 'Mrs. Balser, those Marines work us hard.' I could tell the student felt challenged, but at the same time motivated. I believe the Marines have a way of motivating students who would normally not push themselves during physical education."
After 13 years of mutual cooperation between Depot Marines and Holmes' students and faculty, Holmes administrators have noted the positive results their students have received over the years.
"This partnership has supported student achievement for 13 years, and we look forward to each and every time the Marines visit our school," said Suzann Chalfant, Partnership in Education liaison, Holmes Elementary.
In addition to promoting participation in each school's physical education programs, Partnership in Education also includes participating in Red Ribbon Week anti-drug activities and providing base tours.
Officials from the Depot, Holmes and Taft foresee this partnership extending beyond its current activities in the future to include a reading program, tutoring and computer assistance.
The Depot's Partnership in Education program is a direct by-product of the Marine Corps' Adopt-A-School Program.
This year's program started Sept. 9 and will continue through the school year.
Marines interested in participating in Partnership in Education can contact the Public Affairs Office at (619) 524-8721.