Governer's initiative identifies needs of military dependent children

25 Jan 2007 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

Leading up to and during a deployment a family goes through a lot, but who is still developing and learning ideas and concepts – the children.

In an initiative, created by Governor Mike Easley, state-wide-institutes will be training to help educators better understand the challenges faced by children of deployed parents, according to a press release by Office of Gov. Easley.

“For many military children, teachers may be one of the few sources of stability and attending school every day may be one of the few ‘normal’ routines for those whose lives are disrupted when military parents answer the call to duty, “ said Easley. “Teachers and administrators need to know how to identify and help children adjust and focus on learning during such a difficult time.”

Also created by the initiative is the Web site

The new site provides information about the stages of military deployment, common and serious stress reactions among students with deployed parents, tips on identifying and working with students with deployed parents, suggested lesson plans and activities, and additional resources for supporting children struggling with the separation from a family member during deployment. Information about the site will be communicated to teachers and administrators across the state, according to the site.

In the press release Easley asked the Department of Public Instruction and the N.C. Board of Education to develop institutes and encourage representatives from each of the state’s school districts to participate in one of three regional Supporting Children and Families of the National Guard and Reserve Institutes held this year.

These two-day training sessions were designed to help educators understand the challenges faced by children with deployed family members in the National Guard and Reserve and strategies to support the needs of children and their families, according to the release.

“While many people think of our military families in and around active duty bases in our state, the fact is we have children of National Guard members and Reservists all across North Carolina,” said Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram, adjutant general, North Carolina National Guard. “Teachers in every school system have children dealing with the issue of deployment in their classroom. We owe it to the men and women serving our country to provide educators with the tools they need to support these children.”

While the state is starting this initive Onslow County is ahead of the curve explains, Kathleen Holbrook, student support services facilitator for Onslow County Schools.

In most Onslow schools there are Deployment Groups lead by social workers and guidance councilors, said Holbrook.

The groups allows students come together to speak with one another about what the deployment will be like and ways for them to cope, added Holbrook.

Schools also have Wall’s of Honor, which showcase parents on deployment so the students can put names of students with the faces of their parents, said Holbrook.

“Military children make up approximately 50 percent of our student population so we are very affected by theses matters [deployment],” explained Holbrook.

For the last three years the White Oak High School and Northside High School ‘Student to Student Ambassadors Program’ put pre-trained students from the school with new students to talk about the school, what they can expect, what there is to do in the community – basically to help fit into the area, said Holbrook.

“On top of theses programs we have personnel always available to speak with students about any issues they have deal with deployments or permanent changes of duty station by their parents,” said Holbrook.

North Carolina is home to the fourth largest number of military personnel in the nation, about 123,000 including members of the National Guard and Reserves. Currently, more than 23,000 active military personnel and members of the National Guard and Reserves based in North Carolina are on deployment, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.