News: School liaisons bridge gap between military families and quality education
Story by Cpl. Kristin Moreno
SAN DIEGO -- Every parent wants their child to be successful in life, but with the constant relocations associated with the military lifestyle, it can be difficult for children to cope and thrive in school. This can add a lot of stress on military families and shouldn’t be a road they have to travel alone.
And they’re not alone. The school liaisons here are scheduled to host a Back to School Readiness Resource Fair at the field house, Aug. 26, to give military families the resources and support they need when considering education opportunities for their children.
A school liaison’s mission is to reduce the impact of the mobile lifestyle on school-age military children and their families, as well as to implement support services that assist with relocations, life transitions and achieving academic success.
“We act as a connector to help families get the best quality education wherever they may be,” said Elfredia Hines, 8th Marine Corps District school liaison and joint liaison for 12th MCD.
The liaisons provide information on kindergarten readiness, local schools, home schooling options and regulations, graduation requirements, college readiness, scholarships and strategies for academic success. They also provide guidance on transferring schools and the special education process.
Hines said they don’t just give a checklist of what to do. Instead, the liaisons sit down and work through a customized plan to fit the families’ educational wants and needs.
Each school operates differently, so military students can be impacted by several factors, including the transfer of records, course sequencing, graduation requirements, exclusion from extra-curricular activities, missed entrance and exit testing, kindergarten and first grade entrance age variations, and the power of custodial parents while parents are deployed.
To ensure military students aren’t penalized by their lifestyle and afforded the same opportunities as other students, the Council of State Governments initiated the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.
The compact addresses all the issues that pertain to military families as well as enforcement of the compact. As of July 10, 2010, 35 states had enacted the compact and eight were introduced to it.
The school liaisons here constantly connect with the schools throughout the Western Recruiting Region and train educators on the military lifestyle and educational needs of military associated school-age students so they understand and support why the compact is in place.
“Many teachers have no clue these children are in their classrooms,” said Hines. “They don’t realize that military students make up a large percentage of the school’s population. That’s why making this connection is so important.”
Hines said military families have enough to worry about during a relocation. The school liaisons help ease the transition and take some of that stress off them so they can worry about getting settled in and back to accomplishing the mission.
For more information or assistance with enrolling dependents in school, contact Elfredia Hines or Sherise Stark, 9th MCD school liaison and joint liaison for 12th MCD, at (619) 524-0916.