Military, school leaders gather to help military students

Military, school leaders gather to help military students

wcrenshaw@macon.comSeptember 28, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- When Clainetta Jefferson’s husband was getting ready to join the military, she talked to a child in a military family and asked what was the best and worst thing about the lifestyle.

The answer in both cases was “moving.”

“It is a double-edged sword,” she said. “It is the complicated thing of making friendships, losing friendships, maintaining friendships, but also finding the strength within your family to develop the kind of resilience that allows you to move from place to place and develop as a whole person.”

Today she is the school liaison officer at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay on the Georgia coast. Her job is to help children of base military personnel succeed in the local public schools.

Last year she had the idea of bringing school liaison officers from around southeast Georgia together so they could learn from each other, but interest in it was so strong it blossomed into something bigger. The state’s first Georgia Military Child Education Conference was held at Kings Bay.

Jefferson was at the Museum of Aviation on Friday for the second year of the conference. The first was a one-day affair that drew 100 people, and this year’s event spanned over two days and drew 150 people.

Every military base in Georgia was represented, and school officials from around the state also came.

The conference included training sessions to help attendees understand the unique challenges military children face and how schools can help them.

Army Col. Kevin Gregory, garrison commander at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, said one of the best things he got out of the conference was talking to leaders from other branches of the military about their shared challenges in education.

“We all have the same issues regardless of the service,” he said.

“I think this forum brings the state leader’s together, both military and the educators, and gives them an opportunity to share ideas and see how they can better support our military families and our children.”

One topic of the conference was the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children . Georgia is among 47 states to have voluntarily joined the compact, which sets a consistent curriculum for military students. It allows students to avoid facing new curriculum requirements each time they move to a new state.

Gregory said he just moved his family to Georgia two months ago and the compact has been a big help for children in the transition.

“They understand when they come here that this is the core curriculum,” he said. “They know where they stand now.”

Col. Patricia Ross, vice commander of the 78th Air Base Wing at Robins Air Force Base, is the school liaison officer for the base. She said schools here do a good job of dealing with military students, and she put it simply when asked what’s the most important thing schools can do to help military students.

“Caring,” she said. “You’re building resilient kids by caring for them.”

Jefferson said the plan is to hold the conference in a different base community each year.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service