Military Family Advocate Helps with ‘Home Front’

As a military wife and daughter, Tina Archer is very familiar with the needs of military-connected students. Mrs. Archer has lived in our community 16 years, and worked as a substitute teacher starting in 2008.

Now, in the role of Military Family Advocate, she is the point person on the “home front” – helping provide support to the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s military-connected students, families, and schools.

“The best part of the job is meeting our military families, listening to their stories and helping them connect to resources in our community,” Mrs. Archer said.

Currently, there are 14 schools in the District that have more than 10 percent of enrollment identified as military-connected students. Seven schools have at least 15 percent of their students identified as military-connected. The school with the highest percentage of military-connected students is Wolf Canyon Elementary, where nearly one-third of students are military connected.

“We applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome,” said Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D.

In April, District schools hosted a number of events in recognition of “Month of the Military Child,” often noting that “Kids Serve Too.” Research indicates that military children attend an average of six to nine different schools and that students who transition frequently have unique needs.2016 Navy Seals at McMillin

April’s activities were intended to help such students feel more welcomed, connected, and academically supported. For example, Navy SEALs parachuted into the playground area of Corky McMillin Elementary (in photo collage below) as part of a special assembly. Olympic View Elementary celebrated Purple Up! for Military Kids Day by involving the school community in patriotic songs and inspirational messages at a special ceremony. Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.

A Welcoming Practices partnership grant headed by the University of Southern California, and that involves a consortium of five school districts, including CVESD, has helped create more welcoming and effective transitions. For example, the position of Military Family Advocate is funded from the grant.

In addition, technology tools have been deployed to smooth the school transition process. A major component of the Welcoming Practices partnership is WelConnect, a new free app made especially for educators, parents and community organizations. It helps families integrate more smoothly by connecting them to available resources and support programs right from their mobile devices. It is available to download from the Apple iTunes Store, or Google Play for Android.

As important is the on-the-ground support to transitioning families. Mrs. Archer encourages families who would like to know more about available resources to contact her at Tina.Archer@cvesd.org or (619) 420-0468, ext. 3772. She is based out of the Military Family Welcome Center at the Fair Winds Family Resource Center, which is on the campus of Loma Verde Elementary, 1450 Loma Lane, in Chula Vista.

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