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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Montana FFA advisor blogs from Afghanistan

From the Great Falls Tribune, http://bit.ly/gvP9o8

CHINOOK, Montana — Deployed in Afghanistan with the 219th RED HORSE Squadron, Chinook teacher Robin Allen may not be in a classroom, but she's still found a way to educate her students.

Recently promoted to master sergeant, Allen has been in the military for 11 years, working as a structural craftsman. For the last four, she's also taught eighth through 12th grade agriculture in Chinook and was the FFA advisor.

Not wanting to lose that connection with her students and community, Allen decided to post journal entries on the school's website to update people as to what she was up to.

"Living in a small town, everyone likes to know what everyone is doing," Allen wrote in an email to the Tribune. "I thought it would be great to have one place that I could send messages to and everyone could read them — family, friends, community, students, etc."

Allen has posted blogs almost every two weeks since she left. While her entries share details about what she's working on, they also describe what it's like to live in Afghanistan.

In her first entry, she told the students how difficult it was for her eyes to adjust to the brightness of the sun. In another she described how an almost powdery layer of dust covers everything.

Webpage manager Paula Molyneaux said that students and teachers alike follow Allen's updates.

"I think that it upped their awareness to have one in our staff shipped out," Molyneaux said. "Really, that's what Robin wanted. This was for them to be aware that she was over there and what was happening — to give them a bigger picture of what's going on in the world."

Allen is currently working on four projects to prepare for the next special forces group to come and take over. Her team is inventorying tools and equipment and doing repairs around the compound, including tinning a roof, sheathing a porch roof and adding some trusses and laying a deck. She expects to leave in the next month.

To read Allen's blog go to http://www.chinookschools.org/.

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