By Megan Garcia, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs Office
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 20, 2017) – The Fort Benning garrison commander and various Soldiers and civilian employees from post participated in the 2017 Greater Columbus Partners in Education Kick-Off Conference at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center in Columbus, Georgia, on Sept. 15.
Established in 1987 as a joint venture of the Muscogee County School District and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the program serves to improve education and increase involvement in local schools by partnering with businesses, professional organizations, churches, civic clubs and military units.
Col. Clinton Cox, the Fort Benning garrison commander, led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance before his speech, which emphasized the continued importance of PIE’s partnership with Fort Benning.
“It’s an honor to be here this morning, along with all the Soldiers in uniform, to represent our commitment to this program and effort,” said Cox.
Cox, who is also a father of two students in the Chattahoochee Valley Region and husband of a career teacher, added he was grateful to be able to show his appreciation for what educators do for their students.
“Your commitment to this chosen profession as educators is selfless, and selfless service is one of the values that we hold dear in the Army,” Cox said.
Cox continued to say that the education that teachers provide is nothing short of amazing and excellent, but Cox, quoting the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year Ron Clark, said, “We can always do better.”
“We should question whether excellent is good enough, and that all of us in here, to include those who are not educators but the partners who are committed to this partnership in education, should ask: What can I do to help to take education in the Chattahoochee Valley Region to the next level?” Cox said. “What can we do together as partners of education to amplify excellence?”
Cox pledged that the Soldiers of Fort Benning would bring their collective skills and knowledge into the classroom to help achieve this goal.
“It’s the personal involvement and the willingness of our Soldiers to participate in your schools that allow the partnership to be successful,” Cox said. “This relationship is essential to maximizing and amplifying a child’s education and development.”
He also added The Army’s core values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage are values they will bring as well.
“So when the Soldiers come to you, and they bring this to your school, what I’m asking you to do is know what those values are,” Cox said. “Hold them accountable for instilling that into your students. Army values are not just what we do, but it’s who we are. These values are, in my opinion, the single most important thing our Soldiers bring to the PIE program.”
Cox also attended various break-out sessions throughout the day and said, “Fort Benning and Columbus are nested to meet the cities line of effort to grow ‘talented, educated people from cradle to career within the community.’’
“The Georgia Department of Labor’s ‘Georgia BEST’ program is tailor-made for our Military – School PIE program,’’ Cox said. “The goal of the BEST (Business, Ethics, Student, Training) is to integrate the development of soft skills into our middle and high school education programs.”
These skills include: discipline, character, teamwork, responsibility, respect, time-management, accountability and many other positive, life-developing skills.
“These are skills that are foundational to who we are as an Army and open opportunities for our Soldiers to have significant impact and bring value to the PIE program,” said Cox.