SSAI Helps Students go Back to School with New Bags and Books
By: Jennifer Collings

Over the past month, the SSAI office in Hampton has turned into a bustling supply room. Mounds of notebooks, pencil boxes, book bags and glue sticks have filled up the front office.

The supplies are not for the scientists who work for Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI), a NASA contractor that works primarily with the Science Directorate, but for some local students as they head back to school.

This is the second year that SSAI has conducted a school supply drive for Robert E. Lee Elementary in Hampton, a school the company and its employees have adopted.

Colleen Mikovitz, SSAI.

Colleen Mikovitz with SSAI adds to the school supplies collected to benefit Robert E. Lee Elementary in Hampton.

Photo Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

Click on the images for a larger view

"This drive will give SSAI the opportunity to help students in the community in which we live and work. The school truly needs our help and support," explained Dee Jones, human resources administrator with SSAI who led the school supply drive. In addition to several individual SSAI and NASA employees donating supplies, the company gave money to buy more.

"We are hoping to give the knowledge and tools to these students to create future astronauts and scientists," said Om Bahethi, president of SSAI.

Levia Stovall, principal at Robert E. Lee Elementary, accepted the dozens of boxes of supplies on August 15.

"SSAI has been a tremendous asset to us," said Stovall. "Ever since they adopted our school, we have embraced the generosity of the employees. They have really supplied us with the tools our students need."

Because Robert E. Lee Elementary continues classes through the summer, SSAI is able to contribute all year through supply drives and tutoring. The employees who tutor the elementary school students are known as the "SSAI Lunch Buddies."

Once or twice a week, the buddies visit the school during lunchtime to eat with the students. Colleen Mikovitz, who goes every Tuesday, usually reads with the same little girl.

"I just bring a book and sit down with them while they are eating and we read stories. The kids love having a reading buddy!" Mikovitz explained.

Said Stovall: "All the students began to notice the reading buddies at lunch and started to gravitate toward the readers. They really enjoy the company!"

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Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
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