Soldiers volunteer to create leaders

COLUMBUS, Ga. – A group of Fort Benning Soldiers are volunteering their time to help create leaders in one Columbus Middle School.

It’s a part of the brand new Eagle Leadership Academy and according to the principal, it’s all the soldiers’ idea.

About 30 students at Blackmon Road Middle School were called to the media center this afternoon, not knowing the reason. When they arrived they met the soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry at Fort Benning, who want to make sure these young leaders in the school will be all they can be.

7th grader Sohan Shanker is a leader of his tennis team at Blackmon Road Middle School. This 12 year old plans to go to Harvard and become a heart surgeon. He welcomes the advice he’s received from these Fort Benning soldiers on  how to become a better leader.

“I’m going to help them if they’re struggling and I’m going to give them moral support they can have better teamwork.” Said Sohan Shanker

All thirty of these 7th and 8th grade students are leaders in their school, captains of athletic teams or presidents of clubs. As part of the school’s partners in education, these soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry are volunteering to make these student leaders even better. They helped to create the Eagle Leadership Academy.

“They have the most impact on the student body as a whole./We felt like we’d have the largest impact through going through them.” Said Penny Bowen.

The idea to focus on the school leaders partly came from this man, Command Sergeant Major Gerald Pyle. He, along with the other soldiers, is active in the school with several programs to address everything from team building to discipline problems.

“Coming out here and seeing the impact on the kids. I’ve been out here for a year. Last year was my first year with the program. I get kids now that walk up to me in the hall and recognize me.” Said Command Sergeant Major Gerald Pyle.

While these students will get the opportunity to learn from Fort Benning’s finest, these soldiers say they’ve learned a lot more from the students.

“They have such high expectations and they’re really striving to to go for that. I’m so happy to see that b/c they’re the future and I wish them the best on it.” Said Second Lieutenant Stephan Pavlic.

Principal Penny Bowen has been so impressed with these soldiers because they have come to the school with ideas, including a program for 6th graders teaching core values, a team development course, for 7th graders, and mentoring for the students who need a little extra help. Another program they are working on, a support group for students who have parents deployed overseas.

Blackmon Road Middle School has several other partners in education including Morningside Baptist Church, Columbus Tech, and Chick-fil-A at Bradley Park.

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