Welcoming Practices 
In Military-Connected Schools
Fall  2015                                                                            

In This Issue:
* WelConnect App Nearing Completion
* Welcoming Practices Unveils New Website
* District Presents Incoming Students With 'Challenge Coins' 
* New Guidebook in Development
* Headlines and Resources  
Upcoming Events 

* The San Diego Parent-to-Parent team is scheduling parent workshops and training opportunities in Consortium schools. Email ptop.sandiego
@militarychild.org for more information.

* The Military Child Education Coalition will hold a two-day training in Seaside, CA. Sept. 24-25. Supporting Military Children through School Transitions: Social-Emotional Institute is open to area public, private, parochial, and home school and Department of Defense counselors and other educators, installation and community leaders, transition specialists, and military parents. Visit this link to register.

Special Offer
Free Guidebooks

     Free copies of our military resource guides for educators and parents are available. Please click here to request a copy. 

     If you have already provided us feedback on the books, thank you. If you haven't we still want to hear from you. Click this link to answer a few questions, and use a computer or a laptop instead of a smart phone. 

Welcoming Practices is a Partnership Consortium involving five Southern California school districts and the University of Southern California, funded by the Department of Defense Education Activity's partnership program. 
Grant #HE-1254-13-1-0017

For more information, please visit our website.

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WelConnect App Nearing Completion 

Districts To Begin Piloting Use This Fall
     WelConnect, the mobile app created as part of the 
Welcoming Practices initiative, will soon be ready for use by students, parents, community members and school administrators and staff members in the Consortium districts. 
     The app links together schools, families, military resources, and community partners in the San Diego area and is designed to smooth the transition process for families into new schools and neighborhoods. 
     Available on both Android and iOS devices, the app allows users to search for the local resources and programs they need near their local school, such as athletic programs, tutoring services, healthcare or child-care providers, and save them as favorites for easy reference. The resources are organized into four categories: district, school, community, and military. Feedback from these early users will help inform improvements to the app. 

Multiple Users

     WelConnect will be useful for multiple groups, including parents, teachers and community organizations working with students and families. WelConnect is a powerful new source of information for families moving into the area and can help them identify the services and programs they want for their children even before they move into the area. It can also link them to community agencies and program providers in their area. 
     WelConnect also provides a map function and contact information for each program featured.
     Military or community-based program providers can use WelConnect to make sure new families know about their services. They will also benefit by quickly being able to view the schools and other providers in their area.

Tutorials Available

     On the Android version, first-time users will be guided through a tutorial explaining all of the features of the app. The iOS version will also soon have these features.  YouTube videos are also available to help users get started. 
     Future updates will allow users to leave comments on resources that could be useful to others moving into the area. Later versions of the app will also be available in Spanish for users who choose that as their language in "settings." Feedback from the districts will be used to improve the features of the app over time. 

Welcoming Practices Unveils New Website

     A new Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices in Military-Connected Schools website was launched this summer. The site provides users with a menu that is easier to navigate, up-to-date headlines on issues affecting military-connected students and news from the Welcoming Practices Consortium districts.   
     We encourage our partners to submit story ideas or recommend resources that we can share with our readers.
    The new homepage also includes a link to the archived content from our previous site for those who are looking for any past materials. 

District Presents Incoming Students 
With 'Challenge Coins'
     Friendly and helpful people can make incoming families feel more comfortable in a new school, but sometimes a tangible  gift leaves a stronger impression.
     That's the idea behind the "challenge coins" that the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) is presenting to newly enrolled military-connected students this fall.
     Dating back to World War I, challenge coins have most often been used by the military and are a symbol of membership in a group. 
     "We believe these coins will carry on the rich tradition familiar to military personnel, by fostering the sense of belonging for a student in their new school community," Melissa Minas, a project manager for Student, Family and Community Services in CVESD, wrote in a  description of the project. 
     Schools will also be able to present the coins to members of the community who provide support to military-connected children and families.
     This practice--or something similar--is a model that other schools can implement to both honor military tradition and make military children feel welcome.


New Guidebook in Development

     Following the success of our four guidebooks on supporting military children in public schools, the Building Capacity/Welcoming Practices team is now writing a new guide focusing on implementing welcoming practices in schools.
     Featuring innovative and promising programs across the country, the guide will highlight strategies for supporting students through transition--from their first introduction to kindergarten to changing schools during the challenging middle and high school years.
    The authors will also include the voices of parents and students regarding their experiences with school registration procedures and being new in a school community.
     Release of the guide is expected in 2016.

Headlines and Resources

We regularly feature stories, reports and resources related to military children and transition on our website. Check back often for new additions, such as these:
  • This October, in recognition of National Bullying Prevention month, the National School Climate Center and Tony Blair Faith Foundation Global Schools Program will offer Standing Up for Each Other, a new module and opportunities for global dialogue on the topic of mean, cruel and/or bullying behavior and how to create safer school climates. See this link for more information. 

  • The Military Child Education Coalition has received a grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation to create a course for educators and parents that "will identify and explore the strengths and stressors faced by children of wounded military service members as they transition from military service to civilian life while simultaneously coping with the combat-related illnesses or injuries of a parent."  
  • This piece for The Hechinger Report looks at how Department of Defense Education Activity schools are working with the National Student Clearinghouse to better understand what military-connected students are doing after high school.
  • Click here for the latest issue of Academic Anchor, a publication of the Navy Region Southwest's school liaison officers.