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PHOTO CAPTION:  Renate Weinmann of the Central Issue Facility describes the kevlar plates that protect Soldiers during the Teachers Orientation Tour.

October 28, 2013
By Mr. Karl Weisel (IMCOM)

WIESBADEN, Germany - For some, it's a chance to learn about changes in the Wiesbaden military community. For others, it's simply another opportunity to get an inside look of the lives of military service members.

Welcome to the annual Teachers Orientation Tour.

"It was amazing -- when I was over in the States they never did anything like this," said Wiesbaden Middle School eighth-grade language arts teacher Tricia Trujillo. "It's good to learn about changes in the community in which we live.

"My hat's off to the garrison," said Trujillo, in praise of the chance to see various aspects of military operations on Clay Kaserne, hear from various speakers about ongoing transformation and to visit different facilities on the installation. "It's a lot of fun. It's only once a year but a great way to get out and explore what's going on in our community."

Trujillo, who moved to Wiesbaden from Fort Stewart, Ga., two years ago, added, "My dad was in the Army so I have a soft spot for the military. For me, it's a lifelong appreciation."

"I think it's good for teachers to see this," added fellow Wiesbaden Middle School teacher Donna Kimelman. "We get to learn about changes in the community and see what goes on here. Teachers also get more of an appreciation of what the kids are going through and what their parents might experience during a deployment. It's good because in the classroom you don't think about things like that."

As in past years, German teachers from a local Wiesbaden host nation school were among the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe teachers and administrators touring the Clay airfield, Training Support Center and Central Issue Facility. Two teachers from the Friedrich-List-Schule joined their American counterparts.

"We do this to foster our understanding and partnerships," said Peter Witmer, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden schools liaison officer. "The two German teachers are part of the Leonardo Project and we wanted to give them a chance to meet some of the American teachers who will be involved in the 2015 project."

Maintaining "strong, positive community-school relationships" is another goal of the annual teachers orientation, Witmer said, explaining that having established that relationship in the past, "it's important that we don't take that relationship and partnership for granted."

As teachers and administrators toured the installation they had a chance to hear from service members about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, to try on protective gear, learn about aviation operations and to shoot various weapons in the Engagement Skills Trainer.

"We give them an operations orientation and try to show them what goes on with the parents of their students," said Witmer.

"I'm amazed every day of the impact that teachers have on our children," said Col. David Carstens, USAG Wiesbaden commander, in welcoming the educators. "Each and every one of you serve the community. You have a huge amount of impact not only on our students but also on our community."

The commander also praised the strong relationships being established between the American and host nation educators, and the many projects involving local students ranging from the Leonardo Projects to Hainerberg Elementary School's environmental efforts.

"You are truly one of the pillars to what we are doing here -- helping truly make 'Wiesbaden: Your home in Germany,'" Carstens said.