Female Army Specialist visits her elementary school

By Jennifer Lassiter
Star Staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

   Brandi Jones, 24, an Army Specialist, visited her long-time friend and 1st grade resource teacher, Charlotte Ryan, at Harold McCormick Elementary School Thursday.
   Jones stayed in contact with Ryan by volunteering in the after-school tutoring program at Harold McCormick as a student at Elizabethton High School. While she has been stationed in Kuwait, Jones and Ryan have remained in close contact through e-mail.
   Jones' stay at home will be brief. She will be back to serve her country in Kuwait in six months.
   Ryan, who currently teaches fifth graders said, " I understand Brandi's dedication to her country, and why she wants this to be a safe place for her child."
   Jones has a 2-year-old named Aria. "I'm ready for this thing to be over with, so I can raise my child," she said.
   Her visit sparked memories of childhood and her years at Harold-McCormick. "This place seems so much smaller, but then again I'm much bigger."
   Jones hopes that fifth graders learn from her visit to fight for what they believe in and stand up for themselves.
   While in Kuwait, the best gifts Jones has received are those from the heart. The cards the second graders are sending really boost the morale of the troops, but Jones would really like to see more home-made cookies, treats and powdered kool-aid. These are items that are not readily available at camp.
   Jones left the states on Jan. 12 and returned April 9. Jones works in a transportation company that helps load and unload ships for the troops in Iraq.