Seabees and Guardsmen battle illiteracy, high dropout rate - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Seabees and Guardsmen battle illiteracy, high dropout rate

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By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – The children burst into laughter as they heard a soldier read the words "Bicaboom, bicaboom, bam, bam."

"Hey, that's what they got in the book," the soldier responded with a smile.

While they're not serving overseas, some military men and women are performing a vital mission on the homefront.  They are tackling illiteracy one word at a time.

Glaister Corlett is with the 20th Seabee Readiness Group.  On Friday, he recruited more than a dozen Gulfport Seabees to read to children at Bel-Aire Elementary School in Harrison County.

"By us coming out and by the kids seeing us, they get another look at the military, exactly what we do, how we are, see how we interact with them," said Corlett.

Five members of the Mississippi Army National Guard are also serving as mentors. It's part of the school's strategy to help reduce the dropout rate later on.

"It brings to them visually that school and the things they learn in school, especially reading, is something that's going to be important to them their whole life.  It's not just what they do inside those four walls in the classroom," said Assistant Principal Jenny Smart.

They build a bond with the children, answer tough questions, and encourage them to never give up.

"I was amazed at how well they paid attention, how well they listened," said Marty Goodman with the Mississippi Army National Guard. "It just inspires them to see us and it inspires us to see them."

Throughout the year, the Seabees and Guardsmen also volunteer during Field Day events, school celebrations and tutoring sessions.

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