Navy educational presence provides listening ear |

Navy educational presence provides listening ear

Christine Kuklica

The Navy Partners in Education has launched its volunteer Navy personnel into the school district to be a presence and listening ear for students.

Naval Air Station Fallon’s school liaison officer, Kimberly Arthur, said she is especially proud of the program and volunteers who offer their free time to the Churchill County schools.

“Without the willing Navy volunteers, this program wouldn’t have a leg to stand on,” Arthur said. “We have received a great response from Navy personnel who are willing to dedicate their free time each week to go to schools and help teachers with the students and interact with all of the children.”

According to the Navy, Partners in Education is increases support of the local schools through a Navy volunteer effort. It contributes military and civilian resources and services to help nurture the intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth of children and youth. It also increases the awareness of the military’s mission.

Arthur said the program has about 20 active rotating volunteers who finished the required training. She said each volunteer is required to contact her and set up a meeting date for training. Once a 15-minute training session is completed, Arthur said she finds out the volunteer’s interest, and the volunteer is then matched up with the appropriate grade and school.

“We’ve have great response from the district, principals and teachers,” Arthur said. “Everyone has been excited about the having the volunteers come in and help out. From what I’ve been told, the volunteers have already created a positive change in the schools.”

One of the newest volunteers for the program said her time spent at Numa Elementary School has already made her feel what she does is worthwhile.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for children. Before I joined the Navy, I was a figure skating instructor for ages 5 to 15,” said IS3 Brianna Beecher. “I love working with children. They are so easily inspired and have fantastic imaginations. I chose to volunteer for PIE because … coming from a single parent home, I could relate to these kids and how they felt. A child needs a listening ear and I would love to help be that person.”

Numa Principal Shawn Purell said the program has been very successful. He said volunteers work hard when they come to Numa and ensure they support student achievement, and read to them, help out with activities and play with them on the playground.

“The volunteers show a great amount of support for the students when they come to the school; it’s something you can notice right away,” Purell said. “You can tell by the reaction and the interactions from the students that the volunteers are having a positive impact in the children’s lives. The volunteers are a symbol of a strong, positive role model and the students take to that really well.”

Kieran Kalt, a third-grade teacher at Numa, said when the military volunteers come into her classroom to help a few hours a day, the students’ faces light up with joy.

“It’s a recognizable expression children make when they see a man or woman dressed in uniform,” Kalt said. “My students get overwhelming excited when we have military volunteers come to our class and help with our projects. The children see them as role models and a friend. This program offers so many great things to the children. Teachers and I would like to think the volunteers as well. It’s something that is greatly needed in our schools.”

Scott Meihack, principal of Churchill County Middle School, said he can’t say enough great things about Partners in Education. He said the Navy volunteers are great with the students because they are yet another voice of support and encouragement for CCMS. Meihack said the volunteers are positive role models for the students, and the volunteers make impressions that the staff doesn’t necessarily see immediately, but eventually, their work will pay dividends later.

Arthur hopes more military volunteers will come forward to support the program. For information, call Arthur at 775-426-3333.