Teachers and staff from Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) School in Newport News, Virginia, recently received training sponsored by The Barry Robinson Center (BRC) to help them support military children’s education.
BRC joined with the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) to sponsor this customized training. This is a continuation of a BRC initiative that brings training to private schools, including Catholic schools in southeastern Virginia. BRC has long-standing connections with the Catholic community and these schools where many military families enroll children.
“We’re excited about helping MCEC to facilitate this much-needed training in our Catholic schools,” Rob McCartney, BRC’s CEO, said. “We’ve served alongside MCEC for nearly a decade and really value the essential work they do to support military families and children.”
OLMC is one of several Purple Star schools in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond (Virginia). A Purple Star school has made a strong commitment to support military-connected children as they relocate to new schools due to a parent’s change in duty station.
“Our mission is to help military-connected children experienced a seamless transition in education. We work with both sending and receiving schools when their families move,” said Kathy McKenna, OLMC’s admissions coordinator and military liaison.
OLMC enrolls students from military families stationed at several installations, including Fort Eustis, Langley Air Force Base, U.S. Coast Guard Station Portsmouth, U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown and Yorktown Naval Weapons Station.
“Our school community is so blessed to have nearly a third of our families connected with the military. So often we go about our daily work and forget all that impacts our relationships with students and their families,” explained Sister Anna Joseph, O.P., principal of OLMC.
“We look to experts in a variety of fields to educate us so that we can best serve those who we’re called to educate. Partnering with BRC and MCEC to provide professional development for our faculty on the strengths and challenges that come with the military family life has deepened our understanding and appreciation for these families we serve, thus equipping us to fulfill our mission in partnering with parents to provide a Christ-centered education for their children.”
MCEC provided a one-hour training session, customized from a six-hour program about social and emotional learning for children from military families. More than 20 people participated in the training.
“Faculty who are completely new to serving military children were grateful for the opportunity to learn more. Others in administration were happy to receive affirmation of the good things that we are already doing to serve these particular families,” said McKenna. “We are excited about future collaborations with both BRC and MCEC.”
BRC’s decision to support MCEC’s training stems from the center’s experience providing residential behavioral and mental health treatment to children from military-connected families. Working with military families gives BRC staff insights into both parents’ and education professionals’ unique needs for support.
“The Barry Robinson Center’s passion and commitment in support of educational opportunities for military-connected children around the world is unmatched,” said MCEC President and CEO Dr. Becky Porter. “Our work with this amazing partner led to immediate success with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and we look forward to working with BRC to deliver the highest quality training to the entire Diocese this fall!”
MCEC’s mission is to ensure inclusive, quality educational opportunities for all military-connected children affected by mobility, transition, deployments and family separation. As part of this mission, MCEC provides a wide range of training for parents, guardians and professionals who work with military children and families. MCEC’s support for private schools is growing, estimated at more than 10 percent of the schools they serve.
“Community and Service are two of OLMC School’s Four Pillars,” McKenna said. “A collaboration with stellar institutions in the greater community like BRC and MCEC in an effort to better serve members of our school community who dedicate themselves to the service of our nation is a WIN x4!”