Source: 1st Special Operations Wing Commander

Okaloosa School Board commits to supporting military-connected students and their families

Source: 1st Special Operations Wing Commander

On Monday, October 24, the Okaloosa County School Board adopted a new Resolution to connect military students and families to the resources and services they need to ensure a successful school experience.

There are 1.6 million children of active duty military members worldwide who face many challenges and unique experiences as a result of their parents’ service. Approximately 70,000 active duty military members and their families call Florida home.

  • The Okaloosa County School District has the highest percentage of military child enrollment of any school district in Florida, with over 5,600 enrolled military children representing 17% of total enrollment.

The resolution was presented to the board by Deputy Superintendent of Okaloosa County Schools, Steve Horton. The resolution recognizes that military children and families face unique challenges associated with frequent relocations, separations through deployment, service in combat zones, and reintegration.

“To me, this is a proud moment, when you start looking at what we’re trying to do here in Okaloosa County schools,” said Superintendent Marcus Chambers. “We understand that as a school district and as a community, it is just so important for us to provide the support that military parents need when they deploy, protecting this great country.”

Chambers went on to thank the administrators, teachers, and staff who were in attendance to support the resolution. 

  • “These individuals, they’ve worked all day, and they’ve had successes and probably a few challenges, but yet they’re here today for Eglin, for Hurlburt, and for the United States Air Force and the military. And for that, we are extremely grateful.” 

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Schools across Okaloosa are currently in the process of applying to be Purple Star Schools, a designation that indicates a school goes the extra mile to respond to the educational and social-emotional needs a military-connected child may face during their transition to a new school. The goal is to keep them on track when they leave high school and go to college, enter the workforce, or join the military.

Colonel Allison Black, Commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, also thanked the teachers and staff for their efforts in helping the children of military families. 

“I have benefited from the likes of you all with my two children,” she said.  

  • Col. Black has a sophomore and a junior who, during her and her husband’s deployments, had meetings with the MFLC (Military and Family Life Counseling) and had their teachers guide them through some tremendous pressure.

“Thank you for taking time to carve out a special program to ensure that we stay connected,” she said.

Col. Tassika Davis, Commander of 96th Mission Support Group at Eglin AFB, agreed, thanking the teachers and staff on behalf of the Eglin Team.

  • “You’re taking care of our children so we can take care of the mission, sometimes here and sometimes downrange. You’re growing them and teaching them and really embracing them throughout the day. So we just really appreciate it. Thank you for the commitment to removing barriers for our military children,” she said.

Chambers presented Col Black and Col Davis with the district’s very own challenge coin.  On the back of the challenge coin it reads, “A Tradition of Excellence since 1915.”

“That’s over 100 years of excellence, and with that hundred years comes a legacy of teachers, staff, and administrators all trying to do what’s right for students, and in this case tonight, our military students,” said Chambers.

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