VIRGINIA PTA SALUTES OUR MILITARY FAMILIES
Virginia is home to some of the nation’s largest and most important military installations supporting the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard and Reserve! As of September 2019, Virginia was educating more military students than any other state with more than 80,000 military connected students attending public schools across the Commonwealth. Whether a military dependent yourself, classmate, friend, or neighbor of a military student, we are all impacted by the military community in Virginia.
As a result of their service to our country, military families and their children experience high levels of stress due to; extended separation as a result of deployment; challenges with welcoming home a parent that is physically or mentally ill; the strain of frequent moves and adapting to new academic expectations while making new friends. Therefore, in 2009 Virginia PTA resolved to specifically examine strategies and initiate programs for outreach and support of military families across the Commonwealth.
INTERSTATE COMPACT ON EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR MILITARY CHILDREN (MIC3)
In 2009, Virginia signed into law the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children (§ 22.1-360). It seeks to remove the barriers to educational success that occur due to frequent moves and deployment of their parents such as:
- Enrollment: Includes transfer of records, immunizations, age/entrance requirements and eligibility for educational programs and extra-curricular academic and athletic programs.
- Placement: Supports course selection, special education services and placement flexibility.
- Graduation: Flexibility to ensure on-time graduation that may include waiving courses if similar course work has been completed, accepting end-of course exams and alternative assessments and allowing students to receive a diploma from the sending school instead of the receiving school.
These provisions apply to the children of:
- Active duty members of the uniformed services including active duty members of the National Guard and Reserve;
- Members or veterans of the uniformed services who in the past year were severely injured and medically discharged or retired;
- Members of the uniformed services who during the past year, died while on active duty or as a result of injuries sustained on active duty.
The Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children meets approximately four times a year and is comprised of; one member of the House of Delegates; one member of the Senate; five non-legislative citizen members including; the superintendent of public instruction; one representative from a military installation; the superintendent of a school district with a high concentration of military children;and the governor or his designee.
If you are a military family member and have questions about schooling options or need help with your transitions after working with your School Liaison Officer, you may contact Dan Dunham (Dan.Dunham@doe.virginia.gov), who is the Virginia Department of Education Military Student and Family Specialist and the MIC3 Commissioner for Virginia.
MILITARY PROVIDED SUPPORT SERVICES
MILITARY SCHOOL LIASON OFFICERS (SLO)
Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps school liaison officers connect military families with educational opportunities and critical information about federal, state, and local education laws and regulations impacting military-connected students. The School Liaison Officer serves as the installation commander’s subject matter expert for school and education issues and works in partnership with local school divisions to enhance the public-school experiences of military children.
EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY MEMBER PROGRAM MANAGERS (EFMP)
Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Exceptional Family Member Program managers (EFMP’s) help military families with children with special needs navigate the maze of medical and special education services, community support, benefits and services that are available and help them become effective advocates for their themselves and their family members
WAYS YOUR PTA/PTSA CAN WELCOME AND CELEBRATE MILITARY FAMILIES
- Up To Date Information: Ensure information about your PTA and special military family programs is easily available on your website. Military spouses do extensive research before a move, they want to know their family will feel supported.
- Have a Welcome Package: Include a special welcome letter from the PTA with information about school operations including morning/afternoon drop-off, the school supply list, special clubs and traditions.
- Offer a Coffee Group or Parent Meet-up: This helps new families form strong bonds with your school community and can help provide valuable resources and information.
- Invite In-Service Parents to a Recognition Event
- Apply for a Purple Star Designation: The Virginia Purple Star Designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military. Schools that earn the award will receive a special Purple Star recognition to display onsite. Talk to your Principal about how your PTA can support the application process.
- Offer a Buddy Program: Having someone to sit with at lunch for the first few weeks is crucial.
- Offer an After-School Club: Providing middle school and high school students with an opportunity to connect and share stories and support can be a helpful way to ease the transition to a new school.
- Allow Video Submissions for Music/Drama Programs: This allows students to connect with your school while they are still preparing to move.
Celebrate Military Families & Students:
- Month of the Military Child: Each year, April is designated as Month of the Military Child. This is a month reserved for celebrating the resiliency of military-connected children and their service, sacrifice and enduring spirit. Consider special ways to recognize the military connected students in your school community. The Military Child Education Coalition has templates you can use to provide students with certificates, posters and other resources including podcasts highlighting stories of military connected students.
- Purple-Up for Military Kids Day: April 22nd is a day to show support for our military students and appreciation for their strength and sacrifices. Purple represents the blending of the colors of the five armed forces branches. Encourage your school community to #PurpleUPVirginia and celebrate by wearing purple.
- Highlight pictures: Share pictures in a video, on a bulletin board or on social media. Ask families to share pictures of veteran family members; active military duty family members; military connected students; a favorite place in the world their family was assigned.
- Get in Shape Together: Have students sport their camo and share their bootcamp exercise or favorite dance, or organize a group morning run.
- Hold a Contest: Hold an essay, drawing, photograph or video contest based on a theme such as:
- “What does ______ (honor, strength, resilience,) mean to you…”;
- “You know you’re a military child when”
- “What Does Hero mean”
LINKS & HELPFUL RESOURCES
Feature Support for Your PTA:
Virginia Department of Education Resources
- Technical Guiding Documents & Training Materials
- Virginia laws impacting military children
- The Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children
- Virginia School Liaison Officers
- Virginia Exceptional Family Member Program Managers
- Virginia Department of Education Military Student and Family Specialist and MICS3 Virginia Commissioner; Dan Dunham (Dan.Dunham@doe.virginia.gov),