The Georgia Department of Education has selected six schools as 2021-22 winners of the Military Flagship School Award.
The Military Flagship School Award recognizes schools going above and beyond to provide a supportive environment for military students and families. Military Flagship Schools provide specific outreach to military families and recognize and accommodate their unique needs.
This year’s Military Flagship Schools are:
- Berrien Primary School (Berrien County);
- Bradwell Institute (Liberty County);
- Chattahoochee Educational Center (Chattahoochee County);
- Langston Road Elementary School (Houston County);
- Midway Middle School (Liberty County); and
- Union County High School (Union County).
“It remains a top priority of my administration to ensure children of military families receive support in Georgia’s public schools,” Superintendent Woods said. “The Military Flagship School Award spotlights schools that go above and beyond to serve and support these students and their families, ensuring that Georgia will have the most military-friendly schools in the nation.”
“As a military child myself, I know the challenges moving from base to base, often on different continents, can have to a young child,” said Rep. Dave Belton, Chairman of the Georgia House Study Committee on Military Affairs. “I’m deeply gratified at the effort these stellar schools are making to make these students feel at home.”
All of Georgia’s K-12 public schools were invited to apply for the Military Flagship School Award, and applications were evaluated by a panel of judges with experience in the education of military-connected students.
Schools were asked to provide specific examples of their outreach to military families, including:
- Services and programs offered to support the needs of military students and their families.
- Training provided to school personnel to help them understand and support the needs of military children.
- Opportunities provided by the school to help military parents and their children connect with and feel supported by the surrounding community.
- Efforts to help military parents and their children feel engaged and respected within their new school by creating opportunities to get involved.
Every selected school has a way to recognize and know if students are from Gold Star Families. They allow excused absences for a student during their parent’s overseas deployment departure or arrival day. In addition, they allow enrollment with military orders, military ID, or shot records for 90 days until the family finds a home or lease; and allow online or phone registration for incoming military members from overseas Department of Defense military bases. Additionally, these schools have a military buddy system linking incoming military students with other military students during their first weeks of school.
“The Military Flagship School Award serves as the foundation to ensure Georgia is one of the best locations for military service members and their families,” said Rachale LaVoie, GaDOE Military Student and Family Specialist. “I am overwhelmed with the exemplary care in which these schools create a culture that fosters growth and understanding of the unique needs our military students and families face.”
Highlights from the 2021-2022 Military Flagship Schools
Berrien Primary School – Berrien County School District
In conjunction with Moody Air Force Base, Berrien Primary provides the services of a Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) for military students and families. The MFLC offers support and counseling services to military children and families, conducts classroom activities and lessons that focus on military life and military appreciation, and provides faculty and staff training to help them understand and support the needs of military children. BPS conducts an annual career fair that includes Moody AFB and other military branch personnel. School and district employees attend career fairs at military installations to hire more individuals with military backgrounds. The school’s Parent Teacher Organization provides ongoing opportunities for military parents to volunteer and continually seeks out military leaders to speak at the school.
Bradwell Institute – Liberty County School System
At Bradwell Institute, a high school in the Liberty County School System, a full-time Military Family Life Coordinator is on campus and available to students during school hours. Student volunteers act as tour guides for new students. Many members of the school’s faculty and staff have a military background, and the school also offers professional learning for staff on educating military students. All graduations are livestreamed so the entire family can attend. JROTC is offered for students interested in a military career – or building character and learning leadership skills – and the school’s website has a robust listing of clubs, activities, and offerings so military families can familiarize themselves with available opportunities.
Chattahoochee Educational Center
At this K-5 school in Chattahoochee County, students have access to a robust science and technology lab, computer science class, and more. This exposure and hands-on learning prepares students to transition to Chattahoochee County Middle/High School and its career academy, where many offerings are aligned with workforce development needs associated with Fort Benning. The school’s Military Life Counselor and Parent Engagement Coordinator provide annual back-to-school training for all employees on the needs of military children. All classrooms must have precise schedules to ensure transient students can navigate the classroom experience with confidence. The school is represented weekly at the Fort Benning Newcomers meeting, so new military families have an advocate onsite to assist them with navigating the transition to a new school.
Langston Road Elementary School – Houston County School District
Langston Road Elementary has a designated Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC), a Licensed Professional Counselor assigned to the school to provide support to military families and students. The MFLC works closely with staff to support the needs of military children in areas such as coping with post-deployment issues, the challenges of changing schools, and more. When new students move to the area, the MFLC collaborates with the family to arrange a school visit and ensure a smooth transition for their student’s first day of school. In 2020, the school established a Military Kids Club that serves as a connection for students whose families serve in all military branches. The club also plans events for military holidays; they collaborated with the Georgia Vectr Center to donate items to veterans for Veterans Day.
Midway Middle School – Liberty County School System
All seventh- and eighth-grade students on Fort Stewart are zoned for Midway Middle School, and MMS welcomes and supports military families in many ways. Each year, Midway hosts a Parent Orientation Night for military families to learn about Midway Middle, ask questions, and receive guidance about future steps, and an online registration process contributes to a smooth transition. On the first day, new students are partnered with Student Ambassadors trained through a joint venture with Fort Stewart’s School Liaison. Military veterans are an integral part of the employee population; they are encouraged to apply for positions and receive assistance to become certified educators through the Military Support program. When families leave MMS midway through the year due to a permanent change of station (PCS), educational record transfers are expedited to ease the enrollment process at their new destination.
Union County High School – Union County Schools
Military parents and their children feel engaged and respected as soon as they walk into the Union County High School building: the entrance hallway has been named the “Hallway of Heroes.” It features Union County veterans and UCHS students who have committed to joining the military. Several military veterans work for the school, and veterans regularly visit to speak with students. Counselors work directly with all incoming families to ensure students are appropriately placed based on their previous academic experiences. The school offers a mentor program provided through the local Family Connections program, weekly military informational visits, and a wide range of courses offered through the college and career academy. Finally, each year, UCHS hosts a Military Signing Day Celebration to honor students who have committed to joining the military.