The following is an article from the El Paso Times published Saturday that features a mentor program that Jake is overseeing at one of the elementary schools here at Fort Bliss.
Bliss soldiers mentor elementary school students
By Zahira Torres / El Paso Times
With his eyes fixed on the soldier in front of him, Byron Banuelos shared stories about himself, his background and his goals in school. Banuelos, a fifth grader at Bliss Elementary, was among dozens of students today that were introduced to their assigned mentors from 2nd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
"He's cool because he is good with us," Banuelos said about Sgt. 1st Class Dwight Bradford, who will be working with Banuelos and four other students throughout the school year. "He's going to help me so that I don't fail the TAKS test."
Bradford -- one of about 50 soldiers who will be mentoring children at the campus -- joked with students, asked about their goals and shared information about his own life.
That is exactly what Principal Thomas O'Hara said he was hoping to see in a mentor.
"Students who may be having a hard time achieving academic success were paired up with a mentor that could possibly serve as a role model," O'Hara said. "They will be helping children not only with academic but with social success, so that they can be engaged and involved and see that people care about them and their success."
About 50 students were selected for the mentorship program, which pairs each group with about three soldiers that will attend classes, conduct one-on-one tutoring sessions and plan field trips that will enhance their learning, officials said.
"The students we spoke to are performing well in their classes but are having difficulty translating that to their tests," Lt. Jake Wade, a former high school teacher with 2-6 ADA, said about his group. "We want to encourage the application of various educational activities, so that they can read and understand and focus on all aspects of learning for subjects such as math and reading."
Capt. Anthony Dunat said the program will create mutual learning opportunities.
"I'm looking forward to it," Dunat said. "I think it will be a great opportunity for me because I have a one-year-old daughter. It will give me a leg up on what is to come."