State School Superintendent Richard Woods is establishing a new Military Student and Family Specialist position within the Georgia Department of Education.
The Military Student and Family Specialist will support military families as they transition in and out of Georgia schools, assist schools and districts that serve military students, and work to ensure the statewide education system addresses the needs of military students and families and helps them overcome barriers caused by frequent moves and deployments.
“As someone who grew up in a military family myself, it is my goal that Georgia will have the most military-friendly schools in the nation, addressing and accommodating the needs of these families who make sacrifices on all of our behalf,” Superintendent Woods said. “The new Military Student and Family Specialist will serve as a liaison between the state education system, school districts, and military families, ensuring we are addressing their students’ needs as policies are created and enacted.”
Rachale LaVoie, an experienced community outreach professional, has been hired to fill the position. In addition to extensive experience in partnerships and outreach, LaVoie brings personal experience as a member of a military family to the role. She most recently served as Early Education Community Partnership Coordinator for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, and holds a master’s degree in management and leadership from Western Governors University.
LaVoie is currently a military spouse and was raised as a military dependent, giving her a firsthand view of the challenges military students and their families face.
As Military Student and Family Specialist, she will:
• Coordinate between state agencies, local school districts, and military installations regarding issues faced by military families and students due to frequent moves and deployments
• Provide guidance and assistance to military families, schools and districts, and military school liaison officers to ensure smooth transitions for military children across the state
• Provide GaDOE support for the Georgia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children
• Serve as a policy consultant on legislation, regulations, and policies related to the education of military students, and advocate for policies to better serve those students’ needs
• Oversee outreach efforts including regular communication with school liaison officers and school counselors, maintaining an updated web presence including guidance documents and resources, coordinating Month of the Military Child activities, and managing the Military Flagship School Award
“As Georgia’s Commissioner for the Military Interstate Children’s Compact I am excited by the Department of Education’s commitment to military children and families,” MIC3 Commissioner Dr. William Hardin said. “The designation of an individual to serve as a liaison between military families and GaDOE is a testament to Superintendent Woods’ commitment to address the unique needs of families who serve our nation through their service and sacrifice. I look forward to working closely with the Department to ensure we continue to be a state that recognizes and embraces our responsibility to military families.”
The position is funded using federal ESSER COVID-19 relief funds.