Hood, schools address education

Representatives from six area school districts joined Fort Hood garrison leaders for a schools council meeting Oct. 4 at the Community Events Center at Fort Hood.

Schools council meetings allow school districts to interact with Fort Hood and ensure the educational needs of military-connected children are met.

“We have one common goal – taking care of military children and making sure the Families have a voice,” Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Hank Perry said.

To open the meeting, Perry had each school district representative present some highlights about his or her district.

Administrators from Killeen, Temple, Belton, Salado, Copperas Cove and Lampasas independent school districts spoke about their campuses, noted their partnerships with Fort Hood and highlighted efforts to meet the educational needs of military-connected children.

Early literacy, availability of dual-credit courses for high school students and improving the range of classes available to students were consistently addressed by administrators.

They also agreed on the importance of effective communication between the school and families.

“Right now, one of our big focuses is communication,” DesMontes Stewart, deputy superintendent, Killeen Independent School District, said. “We want parents to talk to us.”

Fort Hood leaders agreed about the importance of involved parents in the education process.

“We have to have parents that are actively involved in the education process,” Nick Johnsen, director, Fort Hood Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said. “There is an involvement requirement on our parents’ side.”

Fort Hood representatives shared information about some of their efforts to enhance education.

From the School Health Clinic Program that places a clinic for TRICARE-covered youth in a school to Resiliency Campus trainings to help students overcome challenges and learn life skills, as well as tools and forums to address and stop cyberbullying and bullying, Fort Hood agencies offer programs and resources to complement area school district efforts.

The meeting was a forum for the subject-matter experts to have an open dialog about the needs of military students and the resources available to help those needs.

“This is a valuable venue,” Perry said, noting that, “We’re only as good as the information we pass along.”

The garrison commander said it is important that the process and discussion be transparent and the issues addressed need to not only be relevant, but also actively worked.

Fort Hood’s School Liaison Office began meeting with subject-matter experts from nine area independent school districts in August 2016, covering four main areas – information awareness and parent education, higher education, special education and student success.

The nine area independent school districts taking part in the working groups are Belton, Copperas Cove, Florence, Gatesville, Killeen, Lampasas, Salado, Temple and Jarrell.

The goal then and now is to identify and meet education-related concerns and transition issues of military-connected students and to promote a quality educational environment for all students.

For more information about school-related issues or concerns, visit the SLO website at https://hood.armymwr.com/programs/school-liaison-officer.

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