Eagles to soar into new school year

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Maxwell Air Force Base Elementary School principal Melissa Hayes has a special bond with her school. After all, it was her first.

In the 60s, she and her family lived in the row housing now being demolished, and she attended pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and second grade at Maxwell.

"I love our school for lots of reasons," she said.

She's thrilled to be able to greet children Aug. 6, the first day of school.

The teachers report back Monday and parents and students will be able to get their first glimpse of the school at Sneak-A-Peek from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday.

Student enrollment stood at about 200 a few weeks ago with addition enrollment expected by the beginning of the year

Recent completion of base housing renovations is providing more attrative on-base housing, about 500 residences in all. That's something Ms. Hayes hopes will bring more students into the classrooms of Maxwell Elementary School.

The elementary school, the only stateside Department of Defense school at a non-joint Air Force base, "offers a full range of services," including gifted education, special education, occupational and physical therapy, as well as speech and language therapy, Ms. Hayes said.

It boasts 27 professional teachers and six paraprofessionals or instructional aides. Of the 27 teachers, ten are specialists focusing on topics such as physical education, art, music and Spanish.

They also have a preschool child development teacher who works with 3-year-olds to identify and help those with special needs. "We just have a great, committed staff," said Ms. Hayes.

There are after-school activities available, including the art club, Lego robotics and the Maxwell Eagles Choir, and there is always room for more activities, Ms. Hayes noted.

Although the PTO is actively supporting the school, there is room for additional community involvement, Ms. Hayes said.

"We get a lot of help from parent volunteers and that's awesome," but she would also like other military members to get involved, through perhaps a squadron adopting the school or having a squadron donate an hour a week to help students with homework.

"When students see other people in the school, they get a better feel for the military community," she said.