DoDEA grant funds national training for CCISD staff

Special to Leader-Press

Teachers, administrators, counselors, installation representatives, parents, and specialists throughout the United States experienced speakers addressing the theme of Military Children: A Constellation of Strengths and Challenges at the  Military Child Education Coalition Annual National Training Seminar in Washington D.C.  
Department of Defense Education Activity II Grant Project Director Heidi Nelson and S.C. Lee Junior Counselor Melissa Dewald attended as part of the grant’s initiative to increase the social and emotional supports for Copperas Cove ISD’s military connected students. Heather Peacock, CCISD’s Military Student Transition Consultant, attended as a contracted employee of the Military Child Education Coalition. The staff members attended professional development courses focusing on helping students find their inner strengths and resiliency as they transition throughout their school careers.
“The common message and theme that I heard over and over from presenters, students and guest speakers was that ‘transitions’ are tough and happen often for our students,” Nelson said. “Many of our students move as much as six to nine times between kindergarten and graduation. Constantly making new friends and adjusting to new schools is a major stressor for military connected students. As educators, we need to remember that helping these kids, especially within the first two weeks after they enroll, is critical to their well-being and success. Connecting them to services and people is huge. This could be as simple as helping them meet a lunch or recess buddy or advocating for them to ensure transcripts are received or tryouts for teams and clubs are possible even if they move in the middle of the school year.”
CCISD was awarded the DoDEAII grant it to address the needs of its highly mobile military population. Adjacent to Fort Hood, more than 25% of students are dependents of active duty, guard or reserve parents, and an even higher percentage are dependents of military veterans.
During the three-day conference, attendees listened to speakers including Dr. Jill Biden, General Mark Milley, the Honorable Pete Geren, and Dr. Ken Ginsburg learning new ideas about motivating students, helping them find their spark, easing transitions, educating the individual, and goal-setting among other great topics.  
Peacock said these ideas will enrich CCISD employees and help them meet not only the goals of the DoDEA II grant, but also the district. 
    “So much of the information we heard makes sense-not only for military connected students, but for all students. Our hope is that we can bring back this information and use it not only in professional development, but in practice. The more that we learn about the brain, about motivation, and about social and emotional needs of children, the more that we can make education better for all children,” Peacock said.  
Participants also networked with other professionals in similar positions, learned about relevant and new legislation affecting education and military connected students, and returned to the district with numerous resources.
    “I really enjoyed attending the MCEC conference. It provided me a reminder of what are military children go through and the resiliency it takes to handle constant change,” Dewald said.

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