August 9, 2012

Station MCFTB reaches out to local educators

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff
Courtesy photo

It’s hard to find a better example of the military supporting the local community than using station resources to inform the people who educate local children.

Doing just that, three members of the station’s staff traveled to Alice Byrne Elementary School to work with Yuma School District One counselors, educating them on some of the specific needs and challenges faced by military families, and also how the use of synthetic drugs can affect all children and families.

“There are approximately 1,300 school-age children at the Marine Corps Air Station,” said Elena McShane, station school liaison officer. “These represent kids from kindergarten to 12th grade, many of whom attend Yuma’s public schools.”

McShane presented a large list of resources available to military families in relation to schools, giving the counselors added methods of helping military children excel in education.

Life can be hard for military kids. After ten years of war, we’re just starting to see some of the long-term effects of deployments on children.

Brooke Burgess, station Marine Corps Family Team Building director, talked about some of her personal experiences as a mother, educator and military spouse, illustrating life inside the Corps to the counselors from first-hand experience.

“These families are moving every two- to three years,” explained Burgess. “You’ll see an adjustment and transition period when they move, when their parent deploys, when their parent returns. That’s normal, but something to be aware of. Sometimes, the most consistent thing in the child’s life during a deployment is school.”

Deployments are an emotional time for military families, and the emotions can run the gamut in very short succession for everyone involved. Helping to maintain a sense of normalcy in the child’s life is something a teacher may not be aware of.

A new addition to the School Liaison and MCFTB working with local educators was a presentation from the station’s Drug Demand Reduction coordinator, Virgil Tapispisan.

Tapispisan taught the counselors about the latest in synthetic, designer drugs, enlightening the captive audience to the symptoms, side effects and proliferation of the so-called ‘legal high’ caused by Spice and Bath Salts.

“We do this to assist the school district in identifying potential drug use,” said Tapispisan. “While it isn’t their job to enforce drug use statutes, they can be a valuable ally in assisting the families of children who may be dealing with addiction, whether it be the student or a family member.”

The chance to help those who help others is the reward for these presenters.

“Knowing that what I do could help someone, even if it is only one child, means I’ve done my job,” said Tapispisan. “That’s my reward, that’s what make me sleep soundly at night, knowing I’ve passed on my knowledge to someone who might benefit from it, or who can continue to pass that knowledge on to others.”

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