News: Free Conferences for Education Professionals
FARGO, N.D. -- The North Dakota National Guard's Youth Program Office will host two free professional development opportunities for North Dakota educators in coming months. The conferences will be provided through the national nonprofit Military Child Education Coalition.
Registration is now open for the conferences. Supporting Children of the National Guard and Reserve Institute© will take place Nov. 5-6, 2009, in Fargo, and Living in the New Normal (tm) will be Feb. 10-11, 2010, in Minot. Both institutes provide 12 contact hours and are accredited for graduate credit through an arm of Texas A&M University. They also are certified for continuing education units by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training and the National Board for Certified Counselors.
"When the parent -- or in some cases parents -- deploy, many children struggle with the feeling of loss and grief. Not only do the military member and their family experience stress, but children deal with the separation of a mom or dad in many varied ways. Some children have experienced multiple deployments," said Tonya Sigl, North Dakota National Guard youth coordinator. "We do everything we can to help our military children understand and cope with the effects of a deployment. The two free classes are a step in the right direction as we bring training to school counselors, teachers and parents on how to address these real concerns. When you're deployed, you do much better knowing that your family is taken care of back home."
The Military Child Education Coalition has conducted the Supporting Children of the National Guard and Reserve Institute 100 times in 41 states, and the Living in the New Normal Institute more than 30 times in 20 states. About 5,000 educators have had the opportunity to attend the training thus far.
"[The Military Child Education Coalition] helped me to understand the importance of the school-family relationship during a time of great change, such as during a deployment," said Beth Kocis, a teacher at Centennial Elementary in Bismarck who attended the Guard and Reserve Institute in February 2009. "Teachers can help add a measure of normalcy to a very abnormal situation. We can help children feel safe and secure during their day at school, as well as through support groups led by teachers. MCEC helped me to see ways in which I could help the students during school hours, as well as some ideas for after-hours support."
The Supporting Children of the National Guard and Reserve Institute provides an interactive program that gives educators and professionals tools to reach out in a support network to the children and families of service members. The curriculum, content, process and delivery are correlated with the National Staff Development Council's Standards and the National Standards for School Counseling Programs.
The Living in the New Normal Institute prepares school guidance professionals, educators and community members to recognize and address the issues facing children dealing with separation from a loved one or experiencing trauma or grief due to the loss or injury of a loved one. It provides concerned adults with information to help support children during these times of uncertainty and gives them the framework to enable them to support families to ensure that their children have the tools to bounce back from life's storms and stressors.
"The courses were designed by educators, for educators, to provide the latest and best research and experience-based information on how to recognize and respond to the issues and challenges facing military children," said Keith Martin, program manager with the Military Child Education Coalition. "The instruction incorporates presentation, discussion and directed activities designed to give educators the tools and skills to help military children develop and sustain strength and resilience while dealing with the stresses due to the deployment and redeployment of a parent."
Since the conferences are supported by funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army, there are no conference registration fees. Breakfast and lunch meals will be provided both days.
The target audience for these training opportunities is school administrators, counselors, nurses, psychologists and district-level mental health and social work support staffs.
Class sizes will be limited to the first 50 registrants. Interested participants should sign up at the Military Child Education Coalition's Web site, www.militarychild.org, by going to the "Upcoming Trainings" section.