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Unit reads with Gatesville students

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Sarah Rafique | Herald

From left, kindergartner Jaden Shafer, pre-kindergartner Ibraheem Hooks and pre-kindergartner Gabriel McDaniel sit on Lt. Col. Scott Ward's lap as he reads them a book Monday in Gatesville Primary School library. Ward, commander of 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, volunteers at the school by reading one-on-one with students.

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GATESVILLE — Kindergartner I’Dreena Olden searched through stacks of books in the Gatesville Primary School library. When she finally found one she liked — “Friday the Scardy Cat” by Kara McMahon — she walked back to a table where Maj. Holli Goddard sat and the two began reading.

“We get to pick books and read them,” said I’Dreena, who likes to read about SpongeBob Squarepants. “It makes me happy.”

When Goddard is not in her military uniform, she teaches physical education for the Katy Independent School District.

As an Army Reservist, Goddard was called back to duty in May to serve with the 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West. The reserve unit, based out of Grand Prairie, was brought to active-duty and stationed at Fort Hood for a year.

In December, the unit began volunteering at the school through one-on-one reading sessions with students.

“It just gets me back to working with kids,” Goddard said. “I’m used to junior high kids, so this is a nice change. It makes me think, ‘Hmm, maybe I should change schools and be an elementary school teacher.’”

Principal Scott Harper said he’s thankful the soldiers volunteer their time to read with the same students every week.

“It’s quite a commitment for the unit at Fort Hood to be able to conduct their training — whatever their mission for the day is — (then) stop, drive all the way over here, read and then go back to their jobs,” Harper said. “We want to build a relationship with them, be on a first-name basis with them and develop a role model-type relationship so they can relate to soldiers in a positive way.”

Capt. William Brown teaches fifth-grade social studies in Copperas Cove when he’s not active-duty.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was in school,” said Brown, commander for the battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company. “Teachers and coaches always had a huge impact in my life. I wanted to be able to do the same for other kids.”

Brown said education and outreach are important to his unit.

“We came in just to see how we could help out our school,” he said. “Mr. Harper is doing a great job at Gatesville Primary School and we are blessed to be a part of his vision for the students he is responsible for.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at SarahRafique.

5 images

Sarah Rafique | Herald

From left, kindergartner Jaden Shafer, pre-kindergartner Ibraheem Hooks and pre-kindergartner Gabriel McDaniel sit on Lt. Col. Scott Ward's lap as he reads them a book Monday in Gatesville Primary School library. Ward, commander of 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, volunteers at the school by reading one-on-one with students.

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