For the last two years, under the leadership of TSgt. Danny Sholar, Leicle Bostic Traditional Elementary Magnet School of Wichita, Kansas has partnered with the 22nd Supply Squadron of McConnell Air Force Base. Together, the team has pioneered a tutoring program for Bostic students, a program not previously in existence in Wichita.
Men and women of the 22nd Supply Squadron come to Bostic Elementary School nearly every day of the week. They are given time off-base by their commander to tutor in Reading and Math. As a result of the time spent with McConnell tutors, teachers have seen measurable improvements in these curricular areas; they have also seen an increase in the self-esteem of the students with whom they work.
Within the school community, and to the community at-large, the service men and women demonstrate a strong responsibility to the school, to their careers, and to the country. They are outstanding role models for all of the students, and project a very positive image of military personnel, one that is not readily available to many children. This partnership is a solid example of a beneficial school-community relationship.
The particular innovation found within this partnership allows for the perceptions of both parties to improve and friendships to develop in ways not generally accessible to either the military personnel or the students. Due to McConnell’s involvement with the military actions in the Middle East (the Base has been put on Alert Status several times) the students, especially upper-grade students, have a new understanding of the purpose of the United States Armed Forces. They realize that these tutors, our friends, are willing to defend our freedom worldwide. The students also understand the potential risks of their occupation.
Reciprocally, McConnell tutors notice how hard the students are willing to work by choosing to be a part of the Bostic program. They have a respect for the students because of the value they place on their own education. This mutual respect is very visible at school. The Airmen and Airwomen are frequently guests at classroom parties, on field trips, and at special events such as Field Day and 5th Grade D.A.R.E. and graduation ceremonies. The partnership shows to the community two public agencies working closely together for the greater good of the children.
The tutoring program has also opened the door for others in the Squadron to volunteer. It has demonstrated the viability of such a program and has prepared the way for other Squadrons and similar partnerships.