Posts Tagged Department of Defense Education Activity
By Lisa Daniel
Common Core Standards, No Child Left Behind, STEM, differentiated teaching, merit pay. Keeping up with the latest policies, ideas and buzz words in education is enough to make parents’ – along with more than a few educators’ — heads spin.
That’s why it was a special treat when I got to speak about these trends with Angela Wilson, who traveled here this week to meet Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and conduct other official business as the Department of Defense Education Activity’s 2012 Teacher of the Year. Read more here.
Wilson has been a key player in national education issues since being awarded the honor last spring, along with other Teacher of the Year winners from each of the states and territories. Since then, Wilson has traveled several times to meet with national education leaders and work on projects to advance teaching, while bringing those experiences back to her seventh-grade language arts and speech students at Vincenza Middle School in Italy.
“It’s been an amazing year,” Wilson said. “It’s really opened my eyes to what’s going on in education around our nation. As teachers, it’s easy to get stuck in what’s happening in your classroom and not looking beyond that.”
Wilson has met with President Barack Obama, whose sister, like Panetta’s, is a teacher. She’s also had conversations with Dr. Jill Biden, who remains a teacher even as she is second lady, as well as Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other public officials. She has attended education conferences and participated in initiatives and met with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, creator of www.icivics.org, and Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, who spent a couple of hours speaking with teachers at the Educational Commission Conference in Atlanta last summer, Wilson said.
“He met with all of us individually … and wanted us to tell him what’s going on in our schools and how he could help,” she said of Gates. “He wrote down what we said,” then Wilson and four other teachers were chosen to be recorded for a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation video.
“That was really neat that he would turn our thoughts into a video” to advance education, Wilson said. “His goal is to make America one of those really competitive educational societies like it used to be.”
Reports that American students’ standardized test scores are falling below those of their international peers are unsettling, but Wilson said she believes the nation is on the cusp of reversing that trend, in part due to the rapid push for new initiatives. Read the rest of this entry »
By Lisa Daniel
April 30, 2012
Education was front and center in Washington last week and at least two major events directly impact the education of military families’ school-age children.
First, Angela Wilson a 7th grade language arts teacher at a Defense Department school in Vicenza, Italy, spent the week in the nation’s capital representing DoD schools as one of four finalists in the annual National Teacher of the Year competition.
Wilson, accompanied by her husband, Chase, who also is a 7th grade teacher at Vicenza Middle School, shined a light on Department of Defense Education Activity schools for both their quality and also on the unique challenges of their students and teachers.
The week’s packed agenda included a ceremony with President Barack Obama at the White House, a reception at the vice president’s home at the U.S. Naval Observatory with Dr. Jill Biden – a teacher so dedicated she continues to teach three days each week while serving as “second lady” – as well as opportunities to discuss education policy with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The teachers also participated in classes and training of their choice at the Smithsonian, and events with education-focused companies and nonprofits to advance classroom teaching. That, not to mention the discussion these best and brightest had amongst themselves and will no doubt share with their colleagues, should comfort DODEA families.
The knowledge and skills the Wilsons will bring back to the classroom is vast. But even more important, Angela Wilson told American Forces Press Service, will be her message to students that American leaders – all the way to the president – care about them and their education.
“They do value education, you can tell,” she said.
The news got even better when Duncan sent an April 24 letter to all public school superintendents – where 80 percent, or 1.2 million, of students from military families are enrolled — encouraging them to understand and respond to the needs of military students, many of whom change school districts more than a half dozen times in their parents’ military careers. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by in Family Matters on September 22, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
Sept. 21, 2011
Officials hope to hear from troops and their families on a variety of issues — from the quality of education within Defense Department schools to USO support programs and services.
First, DOD officials are inviting military and community members to share their thoughts on the quality and continuity of education in the department’s schools and their suggestions for improvements.
This feedback will be used in the development of a new Department of Defense Education Activity Community Strategic Plan, a document that will help to shape the activity’s way ahead — including mission, vision, guiding principles, goals and initiatives — through 2016. The current plan expires at the end of this year.
Officials would like to hear from parents, students, principals, staff members, teachers, military leaders, students and any community member who interacts with the school system, such as child care or health care providers. Topics of interest include consistency of communication from schools, strategies to improve support for students and families through transitions, and feedback on curriculum, instruction and assessment in DOD schools.
People can provide feedback online at http://cspfeedback.dodea.edu/.
Meanwhile, USO officials are seeking feedback from service members and their families to help them determine which areas of USO support are most valuable to them.
They’re asking troops and their families to take part in the annual Tell USO survey, which is available online at http://www.TellUSO.org through Oct. 5, a USO news release said. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and participants who complete the survey will be entered in a drawing to receive a $500 Visa gift card.
Survey results will offer valuable data on how the USO can continue to meet the needs of military families, the release said. Information from previous surveys has helped the USO improve connectivity in Southwest Asia, develop a Deployment Care Package and establish a Mobile United Through Reading kit for troops in areas away from a USO center.
Posted by in Family Matters on June 9, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
June 9, 2011
After a decade of war, most military families have grown accustomed to their service member’s absence for significant events due to a heavy pace of deployments. But this year, thanks to technology and some extensive behind-the-scenes efforts, deployed military parents from bases across Europe and the Pacific won’t have to miss a major milestone in their child’s life: high school graduation.
About 60 parents deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the world have been invited to watch 12 graduation ceremonies taking place on bases in Germany, Italy and England. Additionally, several schools in the Pacific also will offer a live webcast of some graduation ceremonies in Japan, Guam and South Korea.
“It’s all about the kids and the families,” said Nancy Bresell, director of Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe. “We’ll do whatever it takes and whatever we can to bring them together for such an important event in a child’s life — probably the single most important event.”
The following graduations in Europe and the Pacific will be broadcast online:
– Today: Ansbach, Bamberg and Heidelberg High Schools in Germany;
– Tomorrow: Baumholder, Hohenfels and Kaiserslautern High Schools in Germany; Lakenheath High School in England; Vicenza High School in Italy; Guam High School in Guam; Edgren High School in Japan; and Daegu American School in South Korea;
– June 11: Bitburg and Mannheim High Schools in Germany and Kubasaki High School in Japan;
– June 12: Wiesbaden High School in Germany; and
– June 14: Ramstein High School in Germany.
To watch a graduation, family and friends can get access information from their graduating senior or local Defense Department school.
For more on this effort, see my American Forces Press Service article, Technology Enables Deployed Parents to See Graduations.
Posted by in Family Matters on June 6, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
June 6, 2011
I attended a high school graduation ceremony Friday night that blew mine right out of the water.
Upon the announcement of her arrival, the students and their families stood and cheered for several minutes as she walked onto the stage.
The first lady said it was an honor to help celebrate the Quantico seniors, and praised the military teens’ resilience and strength as they grew up in a time of war, dealing with the combined stress of multiple moves and deployments. “I think that all of you are incredibly special,” she said.
After her remarks, the first lady stayed to help hand out diplomas. She gave each student a big hug and a few words of encouragement before posing for a picture with them.
Between the first lady and their graduation, the students seemed a bit awestruck after the ceremony as they walked into the lobby.
Ashtyn Morgan was in tears but told me they were tears of joy. “It was wonderful,” she said, and it’s all hitting home now.”
Classmate Tiana Bernal said she was surprised when she found out the first lady would be there. And the speech struck a chord with her, she said, especially when the first lady talked about military kids having to move frequently. Bernal has moved four times during her dad’s military career, and one of her classmates has moved 18 times in as many years.
Nearby, class valedictorian Brannon McKee Niblock, daughter of Marine Corps Col. Lester Niblock, embraced her family and friends. Like several of her classmates, Niblock plans to pursue a life of service, and is headed to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in the fall.
I asked her what the first lady told her on stage after she received her diploma. “She told me to ‘do great things,’” she said.
Brannon’s 14-year-old brother, Walter, scored a hug from the first lady as well. The teen called her an inspiration. “She took time out of her day to come here,” he said. “It’s something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.”
In the opposite corner, nine students posed for a picture together to mark their new bond. These students were from Defense Department high schools in Japan and had left with their families after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit in March.
Alexa Remington Lazar of Nile C. Kinnick High School in Japan said it was tough to leave her school before graduation, especially since the Junior ROTC unit she commanded there just received a distinguished unit award. But Quantico embraced her and her classmates, she added.
Tonight she was all smiles as her family crowded round to congratulate her. Her father, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chuck Lazar, had just arrived from Japan two days earlier after staying behind to assist with humanitarian efforts there.
Lazar said he was impressed with the first lady’s knowledge of what military kids go through.
As for his daughter, “I’m still in shock,” she said. “I got to hug the first lady.”
Posted by in Family Matters on May 4, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
May 4, 2011
Each year, the nation sets aside a week to celebrate America’s teachers. This year, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, President Barack Obama hosted a reception for the national and state teachers of the year at the White House yesterday.
Among the honorees was the Defense Department teacher of the year, Angelica L. Jordan, a Spanish teacher from Mannheim Elementary School in Germany.
“I still remember the special teachers that touched my life,” Obama said. “And we all do. We remember the way they challenged us, the way they made us feel, how they pushed us, the encouragement that they gave us, the values that they taught us, the way they helped us to understand the world and analyze it and ask questions. They helped us become the people that we are today.”
As part of this recognition week, the Department of Defense Education Activity is inviting everyone to thank a DOD teacher who has made an impact in their lives.
DODEA officials issued a letter to encourage people to take part in this show of gratitude.
“In our military communities this year, educators have proven to be a caring, nurturing and stabilizing force as ongoing deployments, re-stationing, natural disasters and world events continue to impact military communities,” the letter says. “Our military partners have urged us to maintain that momentum and increase our efforts to meet current and emerging needs. Teachers are vital to this effort.
“Let’s recognize teachers for the significant role they play in our lives and in the well-being of our nation. Let’s join the National PTA and take time to say ‘thanks’ to the teachers of our military communities overseas and throughout the United States.”
To participate in this effort, visit DODEA’s Facebook site, “Thank a DODEA Teacher.”
Posted by in Family Matters on April 27, 2011
April 27, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
Today, I had the opportunity to talk with two military chaplains following their panel on “Connecting Spirituality and Family Resiliency” at the 2011 Family Resilience Conference in Chicago. In this video, Army Maj. Quentin Collins of the National Guard and Navy Capt. Jack Lea discuss the importance of spirituality to a person’s overall well-being and the positive impact it can have on a family’s resilience. See the full discussion here.
Posted by in Family Matters on March 22, 2011
March 22, 2011
The Department of Defense Education Activity has established crisis centers to assist parents of its students and employees who are affected by the voluntary relocations from Japan and Bahrain. The centers are accessible by phone or email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Other sites include the operational status of DODEA schools in Japan and information on school delays or closures in Bahrain.
If you’ve been affected by the relocations and would like to share your story or pass on information, please don’t hesitate to write in.
By Elaine Wilson
Jan. 11, 2011
An Air Force officer’s Antarctica-based blog is bringing science to life for students from the Department of Defense Education Activity and a Maryland elementary school.
The blog’s author, Lt. Col. Ed “Hertz” Vaughan, was stationed in Antarctica for 50 days in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the military’s support of National Science Foundation Research. He wrote about his day-to-day experiences of living and working there in the blog “Dispatches from Antarctica,” which is featured on the Armed With Science website.
John Ohab, who coordinated this series for the Defense Department, shared Vaughan’s posts with students and science teachers worldwide and asked them to submit questions to Vaughan.
Ohab then passed on their questions to Vaughan, whose responses will be featured in three posts on Armed with Science this month. Questions submitted by Arnold Elementary School in Arnold, Md., already are posted and questions from DoDEA students will be featured today and Jan. 14. Read the rest of this entry »