Keeping families first: Educating children in the 21st century

  • Published
  • By Michelle L. Padgett
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe School Liaison Officer
Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, U.S. Air Force chief of staff, recently emphasized building resiliency of our Airmen and families through community educational initiatives and exceptional family member support as well as many other critical quality-of-life areas.

As a parent, I recognize the significance of bringing some normality to raising (and educating) a military child despite numerous academic transitions.

On average, a military child changes school six to nine times between kindergarten and 12th grade. Relocating to a new school and facing the additional hardship of having one or both parents deploy can create a stressful environment.

As parents, we want to give our children a head start in life and for many, that translates to a good education and life skills we value including discipline, responsibility, respect for authority, self control, structure, etc. When military parents arrive on station, they often ask "where do I want my child to go to school" and subsequently select a house in that school district. For children, their concerns are much different such as "who will I eat lunch with" or "will I dress the same as the other kids."

While this road to change is paved with possibility, excitement, growth, and success, the same road may be filled with potholes of confusion, stress and other obstacles. Knowing there is specific roadside assistance will make educating your child in the 21st century a success.

In an effort to directly address the many challenges faced by military families today, Department of Defense implemented several sustainable programs including hiring School Liaison Officers at installations around the world to connect schools, communities and the military by providing information, resources, programs and services pertaining to military school-aged children. The SLOs understand what parents and children are experiencing and know what resources are available to assist them.

Some of the biggest challenges faced during a transition include transferring credits from one school to another, special needs children with Individual Educational Plans, and children involved in athletic programs. Connecting with your local School Liaison Officer, regardless of branch of service, can be the first step toward a successful transition.

To find the School Liaison near you, visit