Model Virginia Programs and 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!
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.
York County Public Schools
Dennis R. Jarrett, Chief Financial Officer for York County Public Schools, provided the Virginia Council with an overview of the Impact Aid program at the May 2011 meeting. The presentation included best practices, such as pre-filling information on the survey card, using Source Check, and coordinating efforts with base housing and school liaison officers. Please see the presentation (PDF) and sample survey forms (PDF) for more information about impact aid.
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) or visit Virginia Advanced Study Strategies for more information.
Blue Star Families 2012 Military Lifestyle Survey Results
Blue Star Families surveyed over 4,000 military families nationwide to obtain a better understanding of their concerns. The results were presented to the Virginia Council in July 2012. Regarding educational issues, Virginia's areas of strength included creating a smooth transition into the school, accessibility to previous school records, providing academic and extracurricular activity support, engaging in parent/teacher conference, providing school counseling services, and utilizing peer support programs. Areas of possible improvement in Virginia included creating opportunities to celebrate and include the military members in the classroom, use of the Military School Liaison, and adherence to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. Please see Blue Star's presentation (PDF) for more survey results and ideas to strengthen connections with military families.
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.