Soldier brings real world to classroom Ballard Middle School students follow Guardsman’s life in Afghanistan through his blog
By Adam Shull firstname.lastname@example.org--
Aaron Connor (right, second from front in T-shirt), a Ballard Memorial High School graduate, eats an Easter brunch that Polish soldiers provide at his Afghanistan base. Connor has been corresponding with Ballard County Middle School students through a blog.
Friday, May 22, 2009
LA CENTER, Ky. — Sixth-grade social studies students at Ballard County Middle School know what time it is in Afghanistan and what the weather is like there on a given day.
The students have become acquainted with the Middle Eastern country though Aaron Connor, a Ballard Memorial High School graduate now serving near Ghazni City, Afghanistan, with the Illinois National Guard. Connor answers the students’ questions through a blog, aaronafghanistan.blogspot.com.
Middle school teacher Ashley Bodell, who graduated with Connor in 2001, arranged the correspondence between him and Cathey Seaton’s social studies classes.
“He was excited about it,” Bodell said. “He had sent me some e-mails and the social studies classes had just started studying the Middle East.”
Seaton set up a blog so all the students could contribute.
“Initially, I was going to have them write a hard letter,” she said. “This way each kid can do it here or if they have computer access at home. They ask questions and he responds. We’re putting in pictures of class activities, so he can see different faces. They can do it all summer, if they want to.”
Student Logan Pickett helped design the blog. He included a photo of the ice storm in January and a local weather map.
Connor called Seaton’s classroom on April 30 and spoke to the students on speaker phone.
“We asked him what he does over there,” student Haley Bond said. “He goes on missions or trains people to be police officers.”
Student Jade Tilford asked him about the weather.
“It changes every day,” she said. “It’s warm one day and cold and frosty the next day.”
Student Breanna Jones wrote a report about the class project and mentioned the risk Connor faces every day.
“I make mention about our little shootouts not to scare folks, but because I want people to know that this is a dangerous country,” Connor wrote. “People hear about ‘safe’ parts of this country. There is no such thing. There are only places with more or less a degree of danger.”
Connor, 26, was deployed Dec. 6 and will likely be overseas until fall. His mother, Beverly Connor, a teacher at Ballard County preschool, said he joined the 33rd Infantry Battalion because it was the same unit with which his grandfather and uncle had served.
Beverly Connor said her son loves educating the students.
“He thought he would only have three or four responses and he’s had a bunch,” she said. “He’s very excited about what he’s doing. He feels it’s a very worthwhile cause. People have been very, very nice, but he said we can’t imagine how poor it is.”
Connor told the students how much Afghani children loved lollipops and now they are collecting suckers to mail to Connor to distribute to the children. They will be mailed on Tuesday, the last day of school. For information about how to donate, call Seaton or Bodell at 665-8400.
Contact Angie Kinsey, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.