Dayley’s Update …
Col. Brant V. Dayley,
Oct. 18, we held the first Process Action Team meeting of the 2012-2013 school year. The team is comprised of military leaders, military parents and representatives from 10 of the surrounding school districts.
The PAT, a proposal of the School Liaison Office eleven years ago, has grown and strengthened into the impressive cooperative it is today. So impressive, in fact, the program was recognized by the Installation Management Command as a “best practice,” and installations throughout the Army are mirroring its initiatives.
While talking to the district representatives, I could not have been prouder of the work and dedication the members of Team Bliss have shown. You only have to look at the many improvements and ground-breaking programs that have been accomplished to find concrete evidence of their hard work.
It is through these meetings that the practice of schools allowing pre-registration to all new military students has developed. The Education Fair is another Team Bliss innovation. Held every year, it allows schools, both public and private, the opportunity to welcome families and share with them all they have to offer.
It is through this collaboration that the Partners in Education program developed, pairing Fort Bliss units with area schools through a formal partnership program.
Through the PATs came the idea to provide military-specific training to school administrators. We now offer yearly workshops on deployments and the military culture to school counselors, principals and other education administrators.
We are now dedicating one of our quarterly town hall meetings to focus solely on questions and issues parents have regarding education. Attended by representatives from area school districts, it not only addresses queries from parents, but it is also a venue for schools to educate Fort Bliss on their new programs, successes and plans for continued improvement.
This coming year we are taking our partnerships even further. Currently, the schools provide two days of excused absences for pre- and post-deployment. When a parent is set to deploy, we are now working with the districts to give children some excused time off during block leave.
A sample letter was presented; that letter would come from a brigade commander and request the school to work with the family. All the districts agreed to look at the letter and provide feedback so Fort Bliss could generate a document that will give parents a little extra backing from their units when they are trying to take their children out of school to spend some extra time with family before Soldiers deploy.
We are also working together to standardize common practices throughout the district, that will allow parents to easily navigate throughout the system if the need arises.
In addition, we will furnish the districts with our calendar of military holidays. This will allow the schools to inform parents whether they will or will not have school holidays on those same days.
With three children of my own, I have experienced the many challenges moving to new districts and locations can bring. Watching Team Bliss in action, I am confident we have the most dedicated team in the Army and we will continue to lead the way in educational partnerships.
I will bring each best practice to you as they come. Have a great week and stay safe.
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