USC University of Southern California

Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices In Military-Connected Schools

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Oceanside District's Alternative Learning Center Combines Academic with Social-Emotional Learning

A three-year-old alternative education program in the Oceanside Unified School District is demonstrating how to meet both the academic and social-emotional needs of students who have struggled in regular high schools and put them back on a successful path. The Alternative Learning Center (ALC) opened to provide schools a better option than expelling students who had gotten in trouble and needed to be removed from traditional schools. Using APEX Learning, an online program, the school provides rigorous instruction with restorative practices so students can learn from their mistakes and make amends for their behavior. "They're just the greatest group of kids in the world but wherever they were before just wasn't working," says Principal Barbara Perez. "We push [the students] really hard. But we celebrate with them twice as hard." Find the full story in our May newsletter.

Districts Increase Efforts To Connect with Parents

Consortium districts are creating new opportunities to welcome families into their schools and demonstrating that building connections with families occurs all year--not just at the beginning of the school year. The Temecula Valley Unified School District's Welcome Center hosted a gathering for military parents last month, providing resources and informing them about upcoming workshops provided by the San Diego Parent-to-Parent (PtoP) team, as well as the work of the Student-to-Student (S2S) groups. Belisa Guerrero, TVUSD's family engagement specialist organized the event. Meanwhile, at Fallbrook High School, Nicole Webb, a military parent, used the school's orientation for incoming freshmen to provide resources to families and make them aware of PtoP and S2S events. Read more about PtoP and S2S in our 2014 Welcoming Practices Annual Report.

Building Capacity in Action

Schools are using a variety of practices to support military-connected students and their families. The videos below are educating public schools on promising strategies and programs that support military-connected students. The videos were created as part of a joint collaborative effort between Building Capacity, the Consortium of eight military-connected school districts and Command Media, a wounded warrior organization. These three-to-five minute videos encourage other schools to implement programs that assist military families through transitions, deployments and other challenges.
We have included the following videos addressing the various topics that are important to military families. Click on the title of each video to find out more and view the full video gallery here.
Children of the Deployed

Connection Corners-Dewey

Friendship Garden

San Onofre-Valentine's Day

Jefferson: Recognizing the Military Student

Temecula Military Appreciation Day Celebration

Partners at Learning (PAL)

Families OverComing Under Stress

Eagle's Nest

Free Resource Guides Now Available

For a limited time only, our four resource guides on supporting military children in public schools are now available for free from Teachers College Press at Columbia University. Each guide is based on research and written specifically for teachers, school administrators, pupil personnel, and parents. The books have been endorsed by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Military Child Education Coalition and leading experts in education, social work, and psychology. Each guide can be used as a text in university and school district training programs and outlines how school professionals and parents can create a supportive school setting that helps military children thrive.

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The books focus on practical strategies that can be implemented to make students feel welcome and connected. Educators, school districts, universities, and school liaison officers are already using many of the strategies highlighted to create supportive school settings for military children.

Follow this link to view ordering information for all four guides. For a detailed description of each guide, follow this link.

Building Capacity is a partnership between eight military-connected school districts and USC. Funded by a grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), the project is creating sustainable and replicable infrastructures for data-driven models of responsive and supportive schools. Staff, students, and parents are being empowered to use evidence to improve school climate for military students.

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