Marine Corps Air Station Yuma


Hometown: Yuma, AZ, US

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma
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MCAS Yuma Women’s Leadership Panel


For Today’s Military Child: 'LINKS for Teachers' In the Classroom


Story by Sgt. Uriel Avendano

For Today’s Military Child: 'LINKS for Teachers' In the Classroom YUMA, Ariz. - In an effort to better understand today’s military child in the classroom, local schools have welcomed Marine Corps Air Station Yuma’s “LINKS (Lifestyles, Insights, Network, Knowledge & Skills) for Teachers,” program into their internal curriculum.

The lesson plans, taught to school teachers by the MCAS Yuma school liaison and Marine Corps Community Service’s Family Team Building trainers, outline the potential effects the military lifestyle can have on children at school.

“Since 2010, the training curriculum has had eight Yuma schools trained on the particular needs of today’s military child,” said Elena McShane, the MCAS Yuma school liaison. “The benefits of bringing this training to the schools have been tremendous in the aspect that teachers now have a greater understanding of the Marine Corps culture, the mission of MCAS Yuma, understanding the various deployment cycles and how that may affect the military child in his/her classroom.”

Military children often find themselves facing unique hurdles compared to those of their civilian classmates. Balancing homework assignments with the psychological and social challenges they have to overcome in their day-to-day lives makes the “LINKS for Teachers” program all the more vital for their academic success.

“Going into this next school year, there’s a number of reasons why the teachers would want to better support these kids,” said Angela Olberding, a LINKS trainer with MCCS. “With a workshop like ‘LINKS for Teachers,’ what we’re doing is educating the educators to help them better understand what a separation, deployment or military move might mean for their student.”

From a military parent’s perspective, the course ensures every military child has support available to them to better navigate a tumultuous lifestyle while maintaining a sense of normalcy.

“No military parent or Marine family is asking for favors; no one wants their child to be separate. They just want their kid to be accepted and, I think, if we can better help these teachers understand that, it’ll be a good thing for not only the kids, but also the community,” said Sgt. Maj. James Willeford, the sergeant major of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.

For participating local schools, the program also serves as an opportunity to better understand what military life is like. The lessons taught include a brief overview of Marine Corps structure, routines and jargon.

“We have 51 students that are currently children of military families attending Yuma Lutheran,” said Angie Schiller, the principal at Yuma Lutheran School and a native of St. Louis, MO. “The ‘LINKS for Teachers’ program is important for us to know what it’s like to be a part of a military family. We just really appreciate the military working so well with us.”

For the school liaison program, keeping lines of communication open is mission-essential to today’s military child’s education.

“Anything that we can do like this, from the air station to the community, is extremely important and, in fact, vital,” said Willeford. “We must be tied in with the community. We need to use the platform we have as Marines at MCAS Yuma to grow the kind of culture that we want – a communal culture between the citizenry and the military.”

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