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PHOTO CAPTION:  Lt. Col. Brian Zarchin, Headquarters Battalion Commander, signs the Partnership Agreement as Headquarters Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Carolyn Reynolds looks on at the Partners in Education reception on Sept. 23.

September 30, 2013
By Titus Ledbetter III, Belvoir Eagle

Fort Belvoir leadership emphasized the importance of building good character in children during the Partners in Education annual reception at the Officers' Club Monday.
The event recognized voluntary contributions made by community education partners. PIE supports military and civilian youth through scholarship initiatives, field trips, workshops and apprenticeships.
The work of the volunteers continues to inspire military children, said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson.
"We appreciate your involvement and your understanding of why education is so important," he said. "As a community, we have a collective stake in making sure that our next generation is educated."
This year, Army educational programs will add arts education to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education initiatives, Gadson said. This will change the acronym for the initiatives from STEM to STEAM.
Students from Fort Belvoir feeder schools showcased a variety of projects, including a robotics demonstration, and also played music during the reception. Gadson said it was encouraging to interact with the children during the event.
Lt. Col. Brian Zarchin, USAG Fort Belvoir, Headquarters Battalion commander, said that good character is priceless. He talked about the battalion's effort to promote its Character Counts program, with its partner, Fort Belvoir Elementary School. The initiative promotes six pillars of good character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, citizenship and fairness.
Last year, garrison leadership visited Fort Belvoir Elementary School six times to talk to the students about each character pillar, Zarchin said. The Character Counts program will continue in November.
The reception brought together a variety of people committed to partnering with the school system, according to Wendy O'Sullivan, Child, Youth and School Services, school liaison officer.
"We are all doing more with less, but this event brings everybody together to create that Army Strong feel," she said. "As a team, we can do it together and we can be here for the benefit of our students."
Jean Bell, Walt Whitman Middle School principal, said her students enjoyed attending the reception. She said she is impressed by the Character Counts initiative at Fort Belvoir Elementary School.
"We are hoping that those characters that they develop in elementary school, we receive them in middle school and in high school and as an adult," Bell said.
Barbara Zimmerman, president of the Fort Belvoir Enlisted Spouses Club, said her organization is invested in the success of military children. She appreciated the remarks that Fort Belvoir leaders made at the event.
"I really loved the pillars of Character Counts, and I feel like Col. Gadson has it correct in that it doesn't just start with elementary kids," Zimmerman said. "These pillars apply to students of all ages and adults. We can certainly find areas where building strong support structures is actually what we, as a club, provide for our military Families, who are often displaced because their husbands are gone or their wives are gone."