8th TSC volunteers tutor, teach value of reading to local students

| April 23, 2010 | 1 Comment

Story and Photo by
Sgt. Ricardo J. Branch
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

HONOLULU — Most children prefer video games and movies over books, so Soldiers of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command are helping to bring children back to the basics of learning, by the opening a book.  

Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Pieniazek, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, listens to Cortlen Naylon, a 2nd-grader, read during a tutoring session, April 12, at Gustav H. Webling Elementary School. The 8th TSC makes routine trips to the school as part of a community outreach program to help out the schoolchildren in their district.For three 8th TSC Soldiers visiting the Gustav H. Webling Elementary School, their trip served a special purpose: to make a difference in second graders’ lives through reading.

“I just feel that kids can always use a little help, so I wanted to do my part for the community,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Pieniazek, assistant inspector general, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th TSC. “It really makes you feel good about yourself when you donate your time to making a difference in someone’s life through reading.”

Pieniazek has been deployed to Iraq and wanted to show people not in the military that there’s another side to being a Soldier rather than just being a warfighter. 

“It’s important to let people know we’re not just about fighting for our country,” she said. “We may go to other countries to help overseas, but we also do our part here at home to better the places that we live here in Hawaii.”

During the tutoring, Pieniazek was paired with 8-year-old Courtlen Naylon, a 2nd grader at Webling Elementary, to read about African-American inventors and their impact on American society. 

Pieniazek’s role was to help Naylon understand the big words kids often stumble on while reading schoolbooks.

“Benjamin Banneker was famous for his almanac, as well as his clock,” Naylon said. “He did a lot for America.”

As Naylon continued reading, she would pause and look at Pieniazek and ask her the meaning of certain words. The visit lasted for an hour, but the impact will remain longer in many of the 2nd graders’ lives. 

For Naylon, the visit showed her one thing: Soldiers are more than just fighters; they are people, too.

“She was really nice,” Naylon said. “I had a good time reading with her. Reading is really important, and I can’t wait till she comes back.”

Pieniazek described the visit as one she will cherish for a long time to come. 

“The 8th TSC does a real good job staying involved in the community,” she said. “I never really took the time out to get involved with some of the programs we do like this, and I regret it now. 

“The community supports us so much when we are deployed downrange, so when we’re back, we have to give back in ways like this so they know we appreciate all they do for us,” she added.

Wallyne Nakamura, Naylon’s teacher, added, “Reading is the foundation to make it easier to comprehend other subjects and learn the world around you. Just opening a book opens doors for any child, and it’s great … to share this experience with the Soldiers.

“To kids here,” Nakamura continued, “it’s a thrill to have that personal contact with the folks in the military, and it really builds on their confidence to receive that extra help.” 

Many Hawaii schools, like Webling, are part of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Venture Education Forum’s school partnership program. The Army is currently partnered with 51 public schools throughout Hawaii in the Partnership of Ohana community relations program. 

Category: Community, Community Relations

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  1. Cortlen Naylon says:

    Thats me when i was in 2nd grade. Now im in 7th.LOL.

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