MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Base Quantico has two school liaisons providing a link between the hundreds of military school children going to school on base and in public schools from Spotsylvania through Prince William County.
Tammy Smith and Trish Jowell, Marine Corps Base Quantico school liaisons, provide that link through: one-on-one interaction with the various schools’ counselors, teachers and staff members; an annual education symposium hosted on base and yearly counselor training with each district.
School liaisons also provide information and referral to ease the move from one educational setting to another and by providing information to parents, schools and commands so that they may better advocate for the child, according to http://www.quantico.usmc-mccs.org/index.cfm/marine-family-programs/school-liaison-program/school-liaison-program-mission/.
Through tools and necessary support, school liaisons help military children succeed in their academic careers, including helping get proper credits transferred when necessary, said Smith.
“The average military child moves eight times during their academic career,” said Smith.
The staff members at Stafford County Public Schools also see the need for the school liaisons.
“When the olive branch was extended, I grabbed it and it’s been a great resource, especially in this area,” said Melanie Daniel, supervisor of the Gifted and Accelerated Program, SCPS, of the School Liaison Program. “It became an immediate resource to the counselors here. The relationship has just continued to grow and go well beyond one that could only be used by our counselor staff.”
The school liaison is a necessary resource that shows the military child that his public school recognizes that he needs this support, said Daniel, who has worked with SCPS since 2007. Daniel said that the annual Educators Workshop is a key point of the School Liaison Program for her.
“One of the best things that I’ve gleaned from it is they have these events where they invite us to come on base and get an idea of what the military child’s experience is,” said Daniel. “That’s powerful because we come out of our comfort zone, our known zone, and go onto the base and hear from that population directly, not through someone else. It is great.
“Let’s say you’re an elementary teacher. You wouldn’t have a place to hear from a high school student telling you what it was like to grow up in elementary because they were doing it then. So to bring in that educator and let them see the child who’s now 15 talking about his experience when he was 6; it empowers you to make a difference that you didn’t even realize you were going to make. For that experience to be articulated in such a concentrated way is powerful. It will not let you forget that there are special populations that do require a different type of approach.
“Good for all, but necessary for this group,” said Daniel.