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By U.S. Army Capt. Richard Moore, U.S. Army Central Command
U.S. Army Central
U.S. Army Central enhanced its community outreach efforts in the Sumter, SC area through a new program called Partnership in Education, or PIE.
The program is designed to grow community ties between USARCENT leaders and community members through speaking and mentorship engagements at public schools. Currently, USARCENT personnel are engaged with 21 schools across the Sumter school district, the most of any military organization at Shaw Air Force Base.
Sgt. Maj. Rose Byrd, the ARCENT Command Career Counselor, said the program started in August 2023 after requests from district leaders and school principals.
“We saw an opportunity that we could support,” said Byrd. “USARCENT is one of the cornerstones of the midlands community and in Sumter in particular. We started small, reaching out to individual schools and organizations, but we haven't stopped growing our effort. Now, ARCENT Soldiers are showing the community that we are here, we are involved, and we care.”
Throughout the program, Soldiers from across the command volunteered as groups or individuals to partner with specific schools. Soldiers read to students, assisted with projects for school facilities, support to school spirit days, and attend career fairs.
“"I think the impact from the PIE program in these kid's futures is going to be far greater than anyone realizes,” said Col. Christina Burton, USARCENT Engineer Director who was one of the initial volunteers at Oakland Primary School. “Whether it is reading to a group, discussing military service in a career fair, or volunteering to help a spirit day, it is a privilege to represent USARCENT and the Army while engaging with our community's next generation."
1st Lt. Scott Klein, the ARCENT morale, welfare, and recreation director, believes the program is most impactful when Soldiers focus on personal connections.
“Our partnership program is so important for ARCENT, the Sumter School District, and the community as we endeavor to make a difference in the neighborhoods in which we live, work, and play,” said Klein. “For me, our support to Cherryvale Elementary School is personal as my wife is an educator there. Having the opportunity to support her very important work is meaningful. This is the community we call home and it’s an honor to make a positive impact.”
The PIE program is a component of ARCENT’s Community Engagement Program, a holistic approach to positively impacting the community and the lives of Soldiers and their families. Lt. Gen. Patrick Frank, the USARCENT Commanding General, expressed his desire to grow the relationships between the command the community.
“The Partnership in Education Program is a key part of ARCENT’s outreach and commitment to the local community,” said Frank. “The Army is a people-centric organization, and people are the foundation of ARCENT. Our connections to the local community through programs like Partnership in Education make us stronger.”
USARCENT is the Army Service Component Command for United States Central Command and is responsible to the Secretary of the Army for the support and administration of more than 12,000 Soldiers, including those assigned to joint task forces and embassies, across the 21 countries in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility.
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U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
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