On Monday, the Georgia Department of Education announced it has selected six schools as winners of the new Military Flagship School Award. Snelson Golden Middle School is one of the six schools chosen for the award.
The Military Flagship School Award recognizes schools “going above and beyond” to provide a supportive environment for military students and families, according to State School Superintendent Richard Woods. Military Flagship Schools provide specific outreach to military families and recognize and accommodate their unique needs, state school officials said.
“Military students and families are an integral part of our school district,” Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry said. “LCSS will continue to care for all children. The district as our mission states is to provide all students an education which promotes excellence, good citizenship, and a love of learning. Congratulations on this outstanding recognition.”
“The faculty, staff and administration at Snelson-Golden Middle School are excited to be included in the inaugural group of six Georgia schools recognized as Military Flagship Schools,” Snelson-Golden Middle School principal Roland Van Horn said. “We understand the unique sacrifice military families face and we are proud to offer the extra supports necessary to meet the unique needs of our military families.”
At SGMS, a Military and Family Life Counselor offers both individual and group counseling to military children and their families. The MFLC is present at parent engagement events and interacts with children throughout the day to offer encouragement. Several days a week, a lunch group is hosted for military students, and the school has a Student Ambassador program that connects new students with another student who has the same schedule. Because parents on active duty are often not able to attend parent and family events, the school uses Skype to allow them to participate.
In addition to Snelson Golden, the inaugural Military Flagship Schools include:
• Columbus High School, Muscogee County Schools
• Crooked River Elementary School, Camden County Schools
• Hilltop Elementary School, Houston County Schools
• Lowndes High School, Lowndes County Schools
• Riverside Elementary School, Columbia County Schools
“As the child of a military family myself, it means so much to me to recognize schools that are doing an exceptional job caring for Georgia’s military students and families,” Woods said. “Being part of a military family is a lifestyle full of transition and sacrifice. As educators and public officials, one way we can show our gratitude and respect for those who serve is providing a welcoming, supportive school environment for their families. I commend each one of these schools for their service on behalf of military families and children.”
Rep. Dave Belton, Chairman of the Military Affairs Working Group in the Georgia House of Representatives, added:
“The military provides $28 billion in economic impact to Georgia every year. The Pentagon has repeatedly told us that education is their number-one issue when looking at bases. That’s why I’m so excited about this Military Flagship program. As a child of a Navy officer, we moved every two years. I know how stressful that can be, especially for a high school junior or senior. This emphasis on military children will go a long way toward making Georgia the most military-friendly state in the nation. But most of all, it’s the right thing to do for the men and women who sacrifice their lives for our freedoms.”
All schools were eligible to apply for the Military Flagship School Award, and applications were evaluated by a committee including active members of the military, School Liaison Officers, school district staff, and members of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.
Schools were asked to provide specific examples of their outreach to military families, including:
• Services and programs offered to support the needs of military students and their families
• Training provided to school personnel to help them understand and support the needs of military children
• Opportunities provided by the school to help military parents and their children connect with and feel supported by the surrounding community
• Efforts to help military parents and their children feel engaged and respected within their new school by creating opportunities to get involved
• Readily accessible, up-to-date digital information provided for prospective families (including regularly updated school and district websites and social media sites, future school calendars posted online, and information on websites about school offerings of specific interest to military families)
Every selected school allows excused absences for a student during their parent’s overseas deployment departure or deployment arrival day, allows online or phone registration for incoming military members from overseas Department of Defense military bases, and has a military buddy system linking incoming military students with other military students during the first weeks of school.
Each 2018 winner will receive a visit from Superintendent Woods and other officials and will receive a banner to display in their school advertising their status as a Military Flagship School. GaDOE plans to make the Military Flagship School Award an annual recognition, with a new cohort of schools honored each year.