Picture credit - Camden County Schools

Crooked River Elementary School was named one of the six winners of the new Military Flagship School Award in the state.

The Georgia Department of Education has selected six schools as winners of the new Military Flagship School Award, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today.

The Military Flagship School Award recognizes schools going above and beyond to provide a supportive environment for military students and families. Military Flagship Schools provide specific outreach to military families and recognize and accommodate their unique needs.

The inaugural Military Flagship Schools are:

• 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
• Snelson-Golden Middle School, Liberty County Schools

Crooked River Elementary School, Camden County Schools
At the beginning of each school year, Crooked River Elementary School hosts an open house for all incoming military families to tour the school. The school houses a Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC) who offers short-term, non-medical counseling services to military children, their parents, and the school’s faculty, with a focus on transition, deployment, and other stresses related to military life. Through the federal PROVIDES grant, Crooked River hosts the Connections Club, a support network for military children to express their feelings related to military life. The club encourages military and non-military students to participate to foster understanding and build strong relationships.

“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,” State School Superintendent Richard 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 special 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.

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