Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Military Student Needs Conference Eyes Dewey Elementary

Dewey staff with Dr. Jill Biden.
Dewey staff with Dr. Jill Biden,
second from right.
Like many schools with a high number of students who are military dependents, Dewey Elementary School has a "transition room" where students, parents and the support community can get together to help the kids of soldiers, sailors and Marines make friends and adjust to their new surroundings.

“The Connections Corner is a comfortable environment where questions can be answered and anxieties calmed by a friendly face," said Principal Tanya Belsan.

The Connections Corner is open daily and is staffed by parent volunteers, and Navy and Marine School Liaison Officers. It helps kids and parents adjust to the stresses of military life that include frequent moves, one or both parents being deployed for months.

Belsan was asked to talk about her experiences at a recent conference on military dependent kids. 

About 88 percent of Dewey students have one or more parents who are active military members. Dewey has created a military-friendly environment for students and their families, bringing military school liaisons from the Navy and Marine Corps and other community resources together.

Robin Williamson, school liaison officer from Naval Base Point Loma, described the process of creating transition rooms at Dewey and 10 other San Diego area military-impacted schools. These rooms are dedicated solely to welcoming new military families into the school and community. Families use the rooms to learn about school and community resources and connect with other military families.

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined the group of educators, students and military family members at the University of Southern California on Jan. 19 for the Building Capacity in Military-Connected Schools project, a consortium of eight military-connected school districts, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the University of Southern California.

For more information, contact Belsan, (619) 223-8131.