Marine Corps

August 3, 2012

Station School Liaison Officer

5 Questions: Elena McShane

1. What is the role of the school liaison, and how does it benefit the base community?

USMC School Liaisons are the link between military families, local schools and the Marine Corps.  Our top priority is to provide parents, students and educators timely and relevant information to enhance learning and promote academic success.  School Liaisons identify and coordinate community and installation resources to reduce the impact of the mobile military lifestyle on military school-age children and families.  School Liaisons educate local schools about the many challenges military school age children (K-12) experience such as frequent transitions from school to school, family separations and deployment of a parent.
 
2. What ways has the School Liaison Program been able to educate the Yuma school administrators and teachers about the transitional challenges that military school age children often experience?

For the last two years I’ve collaborated with our Marine Corps Family Team Building trainers to create “LINKS for Teachers.”  This two- hour training educates teachers and administrators on the military lifestyle and the educational, social and emotional effects it can have on our military connected children.  By the end of this summer, eight schools will have received this very valuable training.  This summer we are also providing an educational workshop specifically to school counselors.  I also make it a point to schedule meetings several times per year with all of our Yuma School Superintendents and Principals of heavily military-impacted schools in order to communicate parental concerns and provide suggestions for improvements that will benefit our military children.
 
3. What are some tips for parents to help them determine the best school for their children? 

The educational needs and desires are different for each family and child.  When new incoming families contact me for the first time seeking advice,  I encourage them to assess their family situation first such as determining their options for housing, the need for transportation and before & afterschool child care.  Most of our Yuma schools allow for open enrollment, which means that our families have many educational options available to them to include public, charter, private, home schooling and online schools. Depending on the age of the child, parents must consider the following important things when looking for the best school to fit their child’s needs: The availability of programs such as Gifted, Special Education, AVID, Sports, Clubs, AP, Dual Credit and Honors Courses.  It is also important to consider high school graduation rates, class sizes, safety and disciplinary programs as well as academic performance on standardized tests and Arizona Department of Education school rankings.
 
4. What are some milestones in the MCAS Yuma School Liaison Program since it was established in 2008?

MCAS Yuma now has a much stronger relationship with our local educational agencies.  I am pleased to see how the School Liaison Program has been instrumental in building relationships and partnerships between our commands and our Yuma Schools.  In particular it has been exciting to work with community members the last three years to provide the live web broadcasting of all 6 area high school commencement ceremonies so that deployed parents and families far away could watch their loved ones graduate.  Other milestones are assisting VMA-214 to adopt McGraw Elementary School, collaborating with PAO to facilitate more school fieldtrips to our installation, as well as providing support to our local schools with more Marine volunteers.  Finally, it was an honor to be invited by the Arizona Superintendent of Education to speak in Phoenix at the first Arizona Department of Education workshop dedicated to the transitional issues facing our Arizona military connected children.  This workshop was the catalyst to the Governor’s recent establishment of the State Council for the Education of Military Children.
 
5. What recommendations can you provide parents as they help their students prepare for a successful 2012-13 school year?

Establish bedtime routines, establish a designated homework area with adult supervision, monitor the television, check your child’s backpack each day, keep backpacks in the same place so children don’t forget to take them as they walk out the door,  breakfast is the most important meal of the day, allow children some down time to eat a healthy snack prior to beginning homework, utilize your school’s online parent communication tool to check for academic progress and communicate with teachers, have high but realistic expectations for your children, praise their successes,  seek out help from teachers when necessary. Contact the MCAS Yuma School Liaison for any (K-12) questions, concerns or assistance needed throughout the school year at (928) 269-5373 or mcshaneea@usmc-mccs.org.




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