My Coast Guard

Partnership in Education presses on despite a pandemic 

By Kara Noto, MyCG Staff

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Lt. Mark Currier, currently stationed at Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, has served as a Partnership in Education (PIE) coordinator since 2012. The Coast Guard’s PIE program unites the Coast Guard family with local schools and communities by providing opportunities to work directly with students to enhance educational opportunities and raise awareness about the Service. 

As a PIE coordinator, Currier educates members of the Coast Guard about the program and promotes it to other local units so they can get involved, too. Working directly with local school officials to organize events, advises faculty, conducts tours of Coast Guard facilities, and so much more. His favorite part though, is when he gets to interact with students at his unit’s partner school, Gibson Elementary.  

“When a child smiles after you help them with an assignment or thanks you for being there, I can tell that I’m making a positive impact in their lives and it’s amazing...This is one of the most rewarding duties that I’ve ever experienced in the Coast Guard,” Currier said. 

 Those smiles the kids show for their PIE coordinators and volunteers don’t just happen in person either. The COVID-19 environment may have proved to be an obstacle at first for Currier and his unit, but it wasn’t going to affect their ability to connect with those students. 

“COVID-19 hasn’t slowed our partnership with Gibson Elementary School down. If anything, it has only made us more creative with our PIE administration,” said Currier. “The situation has encouraged us to think outside the box and devise new solutions that are fun, but also adhere to local, state, national, and Coast Guard safety guidelines.” 

MK3 Karly Schley, PIE volunteer at Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, virtually introduces herself to students at Gibson Elementary during a “Cozy up with a Book event.” PIE activities between Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi and Gibson Elementary school have been going strong despite the COVID-19 environment while adhering to local, state, national, and Coast Guard safety guidelines.Currier’s team has hosted several virtual programs throughout the past year to accommodate students and teachers from Gibson Elementary like a Veteran’s Day celebration that had a prerecorded honor guard routine and guest speaker. Currier’s unit is also finalizing plans to provide online, live counseling, and assistance with homework and tutoring for the students. 

Currier is grateful for the opportunities the PIE program offers him and hopes more people and units within the Coast Guard family get involved.  

“Not only does it [PIE] allow you to represent the greatest Coast Guard, but it also affords you the opportunity to make a direct, positive impact in the lives of young children and teens while assisting in their educational progress,” he said.  

Read more about Currier’s experience with the PIE program, where he talks about serving as a positive role model to the children he works, how he got started in the program, and his favorite PIE memory. If you’re interested in getting involved with the PIE program or to get more information, please email Shawntell D. Williams.

Q&A With Lt. Currier: 
 
What are your duties as a PIE coordinator?  

As a PIE coordinator, I promote the program and educate unit members about it while also encouraging other local Coast Guard units to assist and join. I work directly with local school officials to organize volunteer events or virtual outreach programs in the COVID-19 environment. I also help tutor children, advise school faculty, conduct tours of Coast Guard facilities, and so much more. This is one of the most rewarding duties that I’ve ever experienced in the Coast Guard. 

How are you staying active in the PIE program despite the COVID-19 environment?  

COVID-19 hasn’t slowed our partnership with Gibson Elementary School down. If anything, it has only made us more creative with our PIE administration. The situation has encouraged us to think outside the box and devise new solutions that are fun, but also adhere to local, state, national and Coast Guard safety guidelines. We’ve already hosted several virtual programs and we’re finalizing plans to provide online, live counseling and assistance with homework and tutoring for the students. It’s been a challenging but rewarding experience to connect with these students, despite all that is going on.  

Do you have any remarks for those interested in joining the PIE program?  

JOIN! It is a program like no other. PIE is open to all members of the Coast Guard family: Active duty, reserve, auxiliary, civilian, and retiree. Not only does it allow you to represent the greatest Coast Guard, but it also affords you the opportunity to make a direct, positive impact in the lives of young children and teens while assisting in their educational progress. Your participation will greatly aid your local school by providing support and mentorship to kids while instilling a sense of purpose within yourself. If your command doesn’t have a PIE program in place, there are avenues you can take to get the ball rolling and establish one, much like I did. You just need to ask questions and get involved. 

This article was developed by the Coast Guard Office of Civil Rights and is featured in the new March “On Deck” Newsletter. Subscribe to the “On Deck” civil rights monthly newsletter through GovDelivery. Read archived copies of the newsletter on the Office of Civil Rights newsroom.