[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                      January 9, 2009

Officers help ChalleNGe Academy cadets

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

Two cadets in the Wisconsin ChalleNGe Academy 22-week resident course at Fort McCoy can thank two Soldiers for the improvement they showed in their academic studies.

Photo: Lt. Col. Christoper Aycock (right) helps cadet Anthony Koger-Plein with a mathematics problem. (Photo by Paul Meinke)
Lt. Col. Christoper Aycock (right) helps cadet Anthony Koger-Plein with a mathematics problem. (Photo by Paul Meinke)

Lt. Col. Christopher Aycock and Maj. Andrea Shealy helped tutor the cadets, Anthony Koger-Plein and Jessica Swanson, with their academic studies during their off-duty hours.

Aycock is the commander of the Mobilization Support Battalion of the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort McCoy, and Shealy is with the installationís Inspector General Office.

Aycock and Shealy provided tutoring under the installationís Volunteer Program.

Koger-Plein said he was doing better in mathematics ó algebra, geometry and angles ó with Aycockís help.

"I donít really like math, but he explains it to me in a relevant perspective that Iíll actually use," Koger-Plein said. "Like heíll explain (a mathematical principle) to me in terms of deer hunting, and how fast deer move in feet per second."

Aycock provided the tutoring service for about three weeks. Koger-Plein said he enjoyed working with Aycock.

Aycock said he first noticed the cadets in their distinctive uniforms.

"You canít help but notice these well-disciplined, sharp-looking young men and women as they march around post," Aycock said. "I was curious about the program and when I met Commandant (Keith) Krueger at an installation program, I asked him about the program. I was impressed with his reply, and was moved to offer to help."

Aycock has knowledge of mathematics through his training as a Field Artillery officer and 30 years of experience, as well as college education. He served as a math tutor in the 1990s.

It was easier for cadet Koger-Plein to understand math when he could see it related to his life experiences, Aycock said.

Geometry, for example, was easier for Koger-Plein to understand when he was able to view it in terms of something he enjoyed ó skateboarding.

"When the student Ďgets it,í that is a joyous sight," Aycock said about volunteering. "The moment that he sees not only what to use math for, but that indeed he can do it, thatís worth the time and effort spent with him."

The process helped teach Koger-Plein good study habits, which will serve him well in his future endeavors and made this a success story. Aycock said he not only recommends volunteering to others, but was planning to do this again in the next session, when, and if, a need is identified.

Swanson said she enjoyed her language arts tutoring sessions with Shealy.

Photo: Maj. Andrea Shealy (left) takes time to explain a language arts principle to cadet Jessica Swanson. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Maj. Andrea Shealy (left) takes time to explain a language arts principle to cadet Jessica Swanson. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

"I had a hard time in school and didnít like it, but Major Shealy explains English so I understand it," Swanson said. ""Sheís nice, funny and pretty patient teaching me (English, including the grammar). Iím working on getting a better attitude."

Shealy said she decided to volunteer when she came to visit the academyís 10-year anniversary event at Fort McCoy in August 2008.

"I was really impressed with the program and decided I wanted to volunteer," Shealy said. "I feel I connected with (cadet Swanson) because she was a gymnast like my daughter is and could give me advice to tell to my daughter about gymnastics."

"This is a great program for youth; they do a great job here," Shealy said. "It teaches youth not to give up, and I wanted to get involved in it."

It was a good time for her to get involved in the program because she is studying for her masterís degree. Shealy did the tutoring in two 90-minute sessions each week, which was a schedule similar to Aycockís.

Nancy Wedwick, the lead instructor for the ChalleNGe Academy staff, said in addition to the academic assistance the tutors also provide a valuable role model for the cadets.

"It helps the cadets build a relationship with adults who are successful and are successful role models in a positive way," Wedwick said. "Weíre very thankful and appreciative of their help. Some of the cadets needed it."

Wedwick said she is hopeful that more military and civilian personnel will volunteer to be tutors to the cadets in future courses. Anyone who volunteers their time at the ChalleNGe Academy or elsewhere in the installation community is encouraged to register their volunteer hours on the Army Community Service volunteer tracking system.

Registration is important because it supports the volunteerís unit/organization chain of command and the installation, providing the command with the big picture as to how Fort McCoy volunteers are supporting Soldiers, families, and the mission.

Personnel in the Fort McCoy community can register to become a volunteer at http://www.myarmylifetoo.com.

For more information about the ChalleNGe Academy or future courses, visit the Web site http://www.challengeacademy.org or call (608) 269-9000.


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