With the enthusiasm of a teacher entering the classroom for the first time, Erin Schnitger presented her plan on Tuesday. Schnitger was hired one month ago to be the new Fort Huachuca school liaison officer, or SLO. She gave her initial quarterly Student Transition Response Team briefing at Expanding Horizons Child Development Center to educators, key garrison staff and parents of school-age children.
Schnitger described her position as “a one-stop shop for Families.” She is eager to take on that role so Families “are not running around going through hoops. I can get them in touch with the school district or any special resources children might need. But my job is also to be a resource for the community. Anybody who needs an extra hand with a school event or needs help with a homeschool group, that’s what I’m here for. I want to be involved in our community so I can understand the needs of our community,” Schnitger remarked.
Her three short-term goals are first to re-instate the Colonel Smith Middle School Student-to-Student, or S2S, program, which is designed to ease transitions for new students. “Not only does it [S2S] help incoming students, but it allows our current students to show their leadership skills and review all the great opportunities that we have here at Fort Huachuca,” said Schnitger. Second, she wants to ensure the Fort Huachuca Home School group is included in more post education events such as book fairs. Third, Schnitger plans to design an online welcome packet for incoming Families. She noted, “I have so many resources. It would be wonderful to be able to send them to parents before they arrive.”
Schnitger supports military students not only enrolled in Fort Huachuca Accommodation Schools, but those attending Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Palominas public, private and charter schools as well. Although the SLO for a short time Schnitger has been with the Fort Huachuca Child, Youth and School Services Division for over a year. Previously, she was a program associate for its Youth Sports and Fitness Program.
In addition to a review of the S2S programs offered at Buena High School and Joyce Clark Middle School, Schnitger highlighted other state and national education initiatives. She spoke about the importance of the Memorandum of Agreements that the garrison has signed between local school districts and community private schools. The agreements offer support for transitioning military Families. Similarly, on a national level, is the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Children. The compact, which is supported by 43 states, ensures a consistent treatment of military children transferring between school districts and states. More information about the compact is available at http://mic3.net/index.aspx.
Fortunately, Schnitger’s position is not unique to Fort Huachuca. According to online information from Military K – 12 Partners, a joint program between the Department of Defense and the Department of Education, “the Army has an active SLO program on each of its installations. The Army SLOs serve the active, National Guard/Army Reserve/Accessions Commands and geographically dispersed Families within a one-hour distance of their installation.”
The SLO quarterly Student Transition Response Team briefings are open to all interested parents, educators, and any member of the post military community. The next briefing is scheduled for Feb. 4, 1 – 2 p.m., at Expanding Horizons CDC. Schnitger may be reached at 533.0874 or firstname.lastname@example.org.