Garrison, school partnerships benefit Baumholder community

Dr. Michelle Woodfork, Smith Elementary School principal, talks to her students in Baumholder Military Community. Woodfork was an assistant principal in Baumholder from 2009 to 2011 and returned in 2019 as principal following an assignment at Ramstein Middle School. Photo by Bernd Mai

A strong partnership between U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz leaders and school principals led to improvements for students and teachers in the Baumholder Military Community this past year.

USAG RP Commander Col. Jason Edwards makes it a priority to work closely with Smith Elementary School Principal Dr. Michelle Woodfork and Baumholder Middle High School Principal Leah Zamor, ensuring they have the support they need from the garrison in order to be successful.

“I’m very excited with how the garrison and the Baumholder schools are working together to benefit the students,” Edwards said. “They have some really good, strong leadership up there right now with the two principals, and there’s no gap between our combined efforts in the community. I look forward to our joint team finding ways to continue to provide the best educational environment possible for students, their parents and the teachers.”

This is Woodfork’s first year as principal, but she’s no stranger to Baumholder – her first assistant principal assignment was here from 2009 to 2011. She returned to the community following an assignment as assistant principal of Ramstein Middle School.

“I love the family-like community that Baumholder offers,” Woodfork said. “Having grown up in a small town, it reminds me of my own elementary school experience.”

Woodfork said she has been warmly welcomed back into the Baumholder community.

“The garrison, specifically Colonel Edwards and Mr. Jim Bradford (Deputy Garrison Manager), have been wonderful in terms of presence, support and the sharing of information that impacts our families,” she said. “I know this positively impacts our mission of providing excellent educational experiences for all of our Bulldogs!”

Recent changes for Smith ES include the start of a breakfast program with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, a partnership with 44th Signal Brigade through the Adopt-a-School Program, and coordination with the garrison’s Directorate of Emergency Services to improve parking and drop-off procedures at the school.

“The success of our school vision and mission is only because of the partnerships that exist between parents, command and school, so I want to thank each parent, Soldier, commander, unit and agency who has poured into Smith ES,” Woodfork added.

Zamor just began her third school year as the BMHS principal. Prior to that, she was the Kaiserslautern Middle School assistant principal from 2011 to 2017.

“Baumholder has a strong sense of warmth and community that I have cherished during my tenure here,” Zamor said. “I appreciate the opportunities our community partnerships have afforded our students.”

Leah Zamor, Baumholder Middle High School principal, completes daily work at her desk. Zamor just began her third school year as the BMHS principal. Prior to that, she was the Kaiserslautern Middle School assistant principal from 2011 to 2017. Photo by Bernd Mai

Recent changes for BMHS include an increase of Advanced Placement courses, an expansion of Career Technical Education pathways, and increased intramural activities for students.

Collaboration with the garrison has also extended to the BMHS School Advisory Council, which is working to increase student support via Adolescent Support Counseling Services and Military Family Life Counselor services, Zamor added.

“USAG Rheinland-Pfalz leadership, to include Colonel Edwards and Mr. Bradford, has been an integral part of our collaboration efforts working as liaison between the community and our schools to build our BMHS parent private organizations, instructional work and other community partnerships,” Zamor said.

“We appreciate the continued support and will continue to remain innovative with our instructional program offerings and activities for our students,” she said.

USAG RP School Liaison Officer Lynn Rice said the relationships between the garrison and the local schools have definitely strengthened over the past year.

“The garrison commander and senior leadership have taken an increased interest in supporting school programs for our families,” she said.

“At Baumholder, which is the farthest away of our dependent schools, garrison leadership has really integrated with the principals and administrators to work together to provide the best educational experience possible, such as the increase of advanced placement courses this year,” added Rice. “The continued command presence at many school events and ceremonies has gone a long way to establish this important quality of life function as a top priority for the garrison.”