Model Virginia Programs & Initiatives
The commonwealth's school divisions are leading the way to help make military families relocating to Virginia feel welcome and easing the transition for military children. The following briefs are samples of some of the successful initiatives and programs implemented in Virginia school divisions, colleges and universities, and non-profit organizations to assist military families. Please check back in often as we highlight more successful initiatives!
Fairfax County Public School Professional Development
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) developed the following training videos to serve as professional development for educators in the county. While some of the policies and forms are specific to FCPS, the videos provide a general overview of the Interstate Compact and how it is applied.
- Eligibility and Identification: Four Minute Training Presentation
- Course Evaluation, Academic Placement, Graduation: 16 Minute Training Presentation
Military Child Buddy Program
The Military Child Buddy Program was launched at Stratford Landing Elementary School, Fairfax County, by Erica Parra, a military spouse. Ms. Parra has created the Military Child Buddy Program (PDF) document for schools and parents to follow in developing a buddy program for their school. The mission of the buddy program is to meet military connected student transition needs by (1) easing “new kid” stress by providing friendly peer contact before school starts; (2) creating a positive environment for military families at the school; and (3) encouraging increased school connectedness and acceptance. The goal of the program is to give the new student and family a familiar and friendly face in the crowd.
Military-Connected School Counselors
A Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) grant currently funds two military-connected school counselor positions in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. The counselors assist with transitions, encourage peer support such as Student 2 Student (S2S), provide social emotional support, raise awareness and responsiveness, engage military families, and increase STEM college and career interests. The counselors presented to the Virginia Council at its January 2016 meeting and described their role, impact, and the challenges faced by military-connected students. Please see the Military-Connected School Counselors presentation (PDF) for more information.
School Liaison Officer Partnerships
Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps school liaisons connect military families with educational opportunities and critical information about state and local school laws, policies and standards. School liaison officers for U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir and school liaison for Navy Region Mid Atlantic provided information about the role of the school liaison officer at the December 2014 Virginia Council meeting.
The school support services office provides assistance with regards to soldier, family, civilian readiness; installation readiness; community support; and transformation. The school liaison officers create individualized family service plans, and are working in partnership with George Mason University to develop operational procedures for specific educator roles to ease implementation of the Interstate Compact and military family transitions. The liaisons recommended peer mentoring programs, such as Student 2 Student (S2S). The school liaison officers also noted the need for behavioral support through military-connected counselors. To connect with military families, the school support services office is included in the in-processing and out-processing checklist military members receive, they provide “newcomers” briefings each month, and are often connected to families through other school liaisons. Please see the liaisons’ presentation (PDF) for more information.
The Navy’s mission is to have the school liaison officer serve as the liaison between the installation commander, military agencies and schools by providing assistance in matters pertaining to student education. Navy school liaisons provide seven core services: school transition services; deployment support; command, school and community communication; special education system navigation; home school linkage and support; partnership in education; and postsecondary preparations. The Joint Military Services School Liaison Committee is a model partnership and annual meeting between installation commanders and school superintendents in the Hampton Roads region. Please see the liaison’s presentation (PDF) for more information.
York County Public Schools/Impact Aid
Dennis Jarrett, chief financial officer for York County Public Schools, provided an overview of the Impact Aid program at the September 2014 Virginia Council meeting. The presentation included eligibility and funding categories, as well as best practices for receiving the maximum funds a school division is eligible to receive. Please see the York County Public Schools presentation (PDF) for more information.
Virginia National Guard Youth Program
The Virginia National Guard Youth Program provides support through youth development, youth programming, information and referrals, briefings to service members and families, deployment support, and building community capacity. Please see the Virginia National Guard Youth Program presentation (PDF) for more information.
Stafford County Public Schools
Stafford County public schools educate close to 3,000 children of active duty military, the majority of which are Marines. Stafford’s military support activities include honor walls, “Month of the Military Child” celebrations including “Purple Up,” workshops and training for counselors, principals, and school officials, military appreciation events, deployment groups, and military mail and care packages. Please see Stafford’s presentation (PDF) for more information.
Chesapeake Public Schools
Chesapeake Public Schools has developed many programs to honor and serve military-connected families. Their initiatives as a military K-12 partner were highlighted at the December 2013 Virginia Council meeting. Chesapeake Public Schools provides professional development opportunities for school counselors related to the Interstate Compact, and welcomes new families with informational packets, tours, banners, and lunch buddies. Service members join students for lunch, volunteer in the classroom, and are recognized at assemblies. Schools display honor walls, and military-connected students create honor boxes filled with memories throughout the school to share with their parent upon their return. Please see Chesapeake’s presentation (PDF) for more information.
Prince William County Public Schools
Representatives from Prince William County Schools attended the Virginia Council meeting in September 2013 to discuss their initiatives as a military K-12 partner. Highlights of the presentation include providing training for all school counselors grades K-12 on the Interstate Compact, professional school counselor led support groups for students of deployed parents, military pride clubs and appreciation events, and increasing access to Advanced Placement courses through the Virginia Advanced Study Strategies (VASS) grant. Prince William also participates in the Student to Student Ambassador Program, organizes “Month of the Military Child” celebrations, and has developed military connections through JROTC programs, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, and the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Prince George County Public Schools
Prince George County Public Schools’ initiatives for military-connected students were featured at the April 2013 meeting of the Virginia Council. Programs in Prince George include student to student mentoring in middle and high schools, deployment support groups, “Walls of Honor” in schools, memorial gardens to honor military families, and a care package/pen pal program. Superintendent Browder has also instituted the “Soldiers in our School” program, in which soldiers participate in physical education classes with students. The connections between Ft. Lee and Prince George schools are further strengthened by quarterly meetings with military leaders and a Ft. Lee military and civilian council. Further, DoDEA grants have allowed Prince George to implement more professional development activities, after school tutoring, and intervention services to increase student achievement. See Prince George’s presentation (PDF) for more information.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools
The Partnership Office for Virginia Beach City Public Schools presented to the Virginia Council in December 2012 regarding the outreach initiatives underway in Virginia Beach to ease the transition for military-connected children. Some of the programs in Virginia Beach include peer-to-peer support, welcome packets for military families, monthly workshops for parents, military-connected counseling, STEM career conferences involving military personnel, deployment-support groups, anti-bullying programs, the Military Child and Families Education Graduate Certificate, and the Counselor Transition Training Program at Old Dominion University. Please see Virginia Beach's presentation (PDF) and this overview (PDF) of programs to support military families and initiatives to actively engage military presence in schools.
Newport News Public Schools
Newport News Public Schools was featured at the November 2010 Virginia Council meeting for its programs to ease the transition for military students. Some of the initiatives in Newport News include "student-to-student" peer mentoring, honoring military personnel visibly throughout schools, group and individual counseling for students whose parents are deployed, greeter clubs for transitioning students, resources for military families displayed prominently on the school division website, and strong partnerships and regular communications with school liaison officers and base commanders. Please see the presentation (PDF) for more information on Newport News Public School programs to assist military families.
National Military Project of the National Math and Science Initiative
Paul Nichols, President and Chief Executive Officer of Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, provided the Virginia Council with an overview of the National Military Project of the National Math and Science Initiative in August 2011. The program seeks to increase the number of military students taking and passing AP math, science, and English exams, and expands access to traditionally under-represented students, including schools with high concentrations of military students. The initiative is partnering with 12 Virginia high schools. Please see the presentation (PDF) for more information.
Teaching, Education and Awareness for Military-connected Children (TEAMS) Initiative
Old Dominion University's Center for Educational Partnerships presented information about the TEAMS Initiative to the Virginia Council in July 2012. The TEAMS Initiative conducted a needs assessment of military-connects schools in Virginia, finding that few educators reported receiving preparation specific to military-connected students, but educators recognize military students as a unique population and report a desire for more specific preparation in how to effectively educate them. The TEAMS initiative has created opportunities to provide educators with specialized expertise in meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of military-connected students. Please see ODU's presentation (PDF) for information on the Military Child and Families Education Graduate Certificate and the Military Consciousness Assessment Toolkit.