The summer months in the Army are often some of the most fun and relaxing times for Soldiers and their families. Four-day holidays in June, coupled with the 4th of July kicking off the summer opportunity leave period brings with it relief from the intense training regimen many units have.
However, the summer months also bring about the stress of moving and transitioning as Soldiers get orders to new duty stations. One of the worries that many Soldiers and families have during this time period is finding a good school at their new duty station for their children. Fortunately, the Army has implemented School Support Services to provide resources for Soldiers and their families.
A branch of the Army’s Child and Youth Services, School Support Services feature school liaison officers who help schools, installations and families work together. They accomplish this by helping schools understand the challenges that military families face as they transition, giving Soldiers and their families information about local schools, graduation requirements, school programs, youth sponsorships and providing an array of resources that benefit military youth and improve their school experiences.
The Fort Hood CYS School Liaison Office, located in the Shoemaker Center on post, offers these services to Soldiers and families coming to the “Great Place,” and help them navigate through the various partner school districts around the Fort Hood area.
When asked about the importance of the School Liaison Office, Liz Davenport, one of the three school liaison officers, and SLO for the Killeen and Jarrell Independent School Districts, said, “We support our military connected students on and off the installation, from grades K-12, to include homeschool; we help incoming families get their students connected to their schools so that they feel welcome and have that important first day friend. We want the family’s transition to be as smooth as possible, so we do the leg work to provide families with school, community and installation resources.”
In addition to providing information and support for Soldiers and their families, the School Liaison Office also supports the Adopt-A-School program, or AAS. AAS is a III Armored Corps commanding general program that intends to contribute military resources and services to schools in order to nurture the intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth of children in the Fort Hood area. Units on Fort Hood are partnered with various schools spread across nine districts surrounding Fort Hood. The program builds rapport between units and the schools they support, and reinforces the dedication that Fort Hood has in serving the communities that its Soldiers live in.
“Through these partnerships, units are able to go out to the school and teach, lead and mentor students,” Tina Smith, SLO and lead coordinator for Fort Hood AAS, said. “They participate in activities and events; they get to know the leadership in the schools, as well as the teachers. A lot of them make an impact on the kids in the areas of instruction...we had some of them provide tutoring opportunities...it’s a great opportunity for Soldiers to participate in because they can make an impact on the next generation, and they get to go have fun.”
When asked about how units can support the School Liaison Office, Smith said, “Word of mouth ... just get the word out! Let everyone know that we’re here. There are three of us (SLOs) and we support nine school districts. We support homeschool families. We provide post-secondary information, scholarships for 12th graders, so just a great tool for all military families to have.”
The people and community are the reasons why Fort Hood is known as the Great Place, and it takes commitment and engagement to strengthen those bonds. The School Liaison Office and the AAS program are just some of the few ways that Soldiers and their units can get involved in their local communities. Being able to connect with the schools and the people who live in the neighboring towns creates a sense of belonging. This can dispel the overwhelming stress that these summer transitions bring, and make moving to a new duty station enjoyable.
For more information about the Fort Hood CYS School Liaison Officer or the Adopt a School Program visit https hood.armymwr.com/programs/school-liaison-officer.