Student- and Parent-Led Programs Aiming To Improve School Transitions for Military Youth and Families
Training Sessions Scheduled
Teachers and administrators might make strong efforts to welcome military-connected children when they transition into new schools.
But for students, there's nothing like having a peer to connect with during those first awkward days and weeks in a new place.
That's the idea behind the Military Child Education Coalition's (MCEC) Student 2 Student (S2S) program, which trains both civilian and military students to develop and maintain programs to support students when they are transitioning between schools.
Now the program is coming to four Southern California districts that are partners in the new Welcoming Practices that Address Transition Needs of Military Students in Public Schools consortium grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity.
The San Diego and Riverside County's school liaison officers (SLOs) are excited about having this additional layer of support for military children.
"Student 2 Student is a wonderful mentorship program that provides transition support, peer support and a sense of connectedness for all students involved," said Kelly Frisch, the regional SLO for Command Navy Region Southwest. "It is an all-around great program intended to enhance new students' experiences in a welcoming environment."
The four districts participating will be Bonsall Union, Oceanside Unified, Chula Vista Elementary and Temecula Valley Unified. A total of 19 schools will be involved. The initiative will have four components:
- S2S: This original program focuses on high school students and on helping incoming military students navigate their new surroundings and form positive relationships.
- Junior S2S: This middle school version is customized to address the concerns of students in grades 6-8 and includes a focus on bullying prevention.
- Elementary S2S: This version for younger students involves more school professionals as supervisors. Students develop peer leadership skills.
- Parent 2 Parent: This parent training program teaches military parents how to advocate for the educational needs of their children as they transition between schools.
The winning entries in MCEC's recent S2S video contest provide an up-close look at how these programs are making school transition a less stressful experience for military-connected children.
Diana Pineda, the project manager for Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices is currently working with MCEC to organize a series of training sessions for the districts. The first training for the Oceanside and Bonsall districts is taking place Feb. 27-28.
"We can't think of a better program to help schools become more welcoming to military children," Pineda said. "S2S is a great leadership development opportunity for students and addresses the specific needs of military-connected students."
The remaining training sessions are scheduled for:
March 3-4, Elementary S2S for Chula Vista district
March 6-7, Elementary S2S for Temecula Valley district