Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices 
In Military-Connected Schools

 February                                                                                                 2014
BC Logo-Month of the Military Child

In This Issue:
* Program Helps to Welcome Newcomers; Improve Transitions
* Building Capacity Intern Receives Scholarship
* Symposium on Suicide Prevention Draws Strong Turnout
* Special Issue Articles Available
* Blue Star Families Survey Results Released 
* Headlines and Resources  
New Name

     This month we begin using a new name for our newsletter: Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices in Military-Connected Schools. This change reflects both grants from the Department of Defense Education Activity that focus on improving educational experiences for military children in public schools.

Resource Guide Corner 

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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 MCEC 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 

Building Capacity Intern Receives Scholarship, Finds Passion in Helping Military Children and Families


     Brian Kane, a masters of social work student at the USC San Diego Academic Center and a Building Capacity intern at Fallbrook High School, has Brian Kane received a scholarship from the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports promising student  veterans.

    Kane, who was medically discharged from the Army following a debilitating back injury, tells his story of recovery in a recent feature from the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families.

     "I would like to become a school social worker," Kane says. "I have interned at a school for two years now, and found that it is my passion. I want to help military children and their families."

Suicide Prevention and Intervention Symposium Draws Strong Turnout 
     Personnel from the Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices consortia school districts gathered earlier this month for a lunchtime discussion on implementing practices that can prevent youth suicide.
     The event, featuring a USC faculty panel, took place at the San Diego Academic Center (SDAC) and was intended to give educators accurate information about the problem as well as strategies to implement school-wide and with individual students.  
     The speakers also highlighted resources available in the community. 
Dr. Michael Rank, director of SDAC, moderated the panel. 

Special Issue of Children & Schools Now Available on Our Website

     The special issue of Children & Schools devoted to military-connected children in public schools is now available on our website's Publications page.

     Co-published by the National Association of Social Workers and Oxford University Press, the journal features 10 articles describing current efforts to address military children's academic and social-emotional needs, as well as best practices that can be more broadly implemented in schools across the country. 

     The articles feature the different perspectives of

parents, school administrators, teachers and community partners, reinforcing the belief that a comprehensive, community-wide approach is needed to help students be successful both in and out and school. Articles also describe how the graduate-level students in the Building Capacity internship program have worked in partnership with Consortium schools to gain skills and support students.
     An earlier link provided in our January issue did not provide access to all of the articles. We apologize for any inconvenience.
     Here are the links to each of the articles:
Blue Star Families' Annual Survey 
Focuses  on Concerns of Military Parents
     More than a third of military parents say they think their children's schools are unaware of the challenges of military life and are not responsive or Blue Star Families proactive regarding military-related situations, such as frequent transitions or deployments, according to the most recent Military Family Lifestyle Survey Report from Blue Star Families.
     The survey of 5,100 military family members also shows that a half of military parents are unaware of efforts to improve school experiences for military students, such as the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and the school liaison officer program.
     The results highlight the need for initiatives such as Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices that work with civilian school districts to raise awareness around the needs of military-connected students. 
     Find the full survey results here.
Headlines and Resources

We regularly feature stories, reports and resources related to military children on our website. Check back often for new additions, such as these:
  • Three members of the Building Capacity team wrote this recent article in the journal Intersections in Practice, from the National Association of Social Workers.
  • This story from Schriever Air Force Base talks about efforts to bring more awareness in Colorado to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children