The goal of the partnership between Fleet Combat Training Center Atlantic and the five sponsored schools is to assist in improving the quality of education in the community. The purpose of this partnership is to provide a variety of voluntary educational enrichments by assisting both students and faculty. Specifically, this is accomplished through mentoring, guest speaking, assisting in computer labs, improving facilities and grounds, coordinating field trips, and supporting special projects.
This program involves more than 150 Sailors who are committed to improve students’ education and self-esteem. The intent is to give younger students that extra attention and encouragement to work hard for better grades, and to provide older students a positive career minded role model who can inspire them to reach their full potential. At the start of each school year, the command and the sponsored schools sign an agreement outlining the partnership requirements. Although the partnership is formalized after the beginning of the school year, the volunteer work goes on year-round. Volunteers at the schools spent numerous hours during the summer vacation painting the school library walls and assisting the maintenance staff with grounds upkeep.
Volunteers assist the school staff in computer labs to provide the students with all levels of computer skills. At the elementary schools, volunteers tutor children in arithmetic and writing skills. High school students visit the base each February for a job-shadowing day during which they are given the opportunity to see Sailors at work. A special day was dedicated to teaching the children about the importance of voting. More than 25 volunteers donated their time to assist in the “Kids Vote” project. Nearly 300 children voted in two separate precincts in Virginia Beach.
The partnership with the educators of the community finds new volunteers through an on-going and aggressive recruiting campaign. The education coordinator works to pursue volunteers by means of bulletin boards, e-mail notices, and a comprehensive calendar. This personal approach produces an average of 15 volunteers per event. The school principals provide feedback regarding the progress of the partnerships. Based on this feedback, the volunteers are given the direction in which to steer the program.
More than 5,000 non-Department of Defense people directly benefit from this program. Definite improvement has been made with regards to computer literacy at the schools. Reading, writing, and arithmetic skills of the elementary school students have improved as a result of the hours that Sailors spend tutoring children. School beautification and maintenance tasks done by sailors have allowed school faculty to focus more on the students and to spend money on projects, which directly benefit the children. The sailors feel they owe it to society, as well as to the nation, to encourage children to become better citizens. These enthusiastic men and women who donate their time and expertise are determined to raise the standard of excellence in local schools.