More than 50 educators and other community partners received professional development training through 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 training. Participants included teachers and administrators, nonprofit leaders, military school liaisons, social workers, military service members and family members.
Social and Emotional Learning and the Military-Connected Child was the title of the training program. MCEC staff delivered two three-hour training sessions virtually on May 11 and 18.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which people understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
“This training helps educators who work with students from military families. The content addresses student behavior and how it’s interrelated with academic competencies, decision-making, and relationship management,” said Kaci McCarley, MCEC’s program manager for professional development. “Once we can help students learn to self-manage, they do better with assignments and in their relationships with peers and others.”
McCarley noted MCEC designed the course in fall 2019 for face-to-face instruction, with activities set up for professionals in a classroom setting.
“The training for BRC was our first time delivering it virtually,” she said. “We really thought through how to make it excellent, and we received great feedback from the participants. Everyone used the technology well, participated in the chat and interacted well with others.”
Attendees rated the training highly for success on meeting learning objectives. MCEC uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system, and the sessions earned an 81 NPS. According to global NPS standards, anything higher than 70 is considered world-class.
BRC and MCEC have worked together for about eight years. Earlier in 2020, BRC donated funds to MCEC to bring this level of quality education to professionals who support military children and their families.
“It’s really enriching to work with staff from BRC. It’s very much a partnership and a very positive experience,” McCarley said. She highlighted the work of Dr. Chuck Brooks, BRC’s vice president and an MCEC National Advisory Board member.
“The training includes several books and other resources that Chuck personally delivered to everyone,” she said. “He really went above and beyond. It’s that kind of support that makes us feel like a team.”
Private School Perspective
About 25 faculty and staff members from St. Pius X Catholic School in Norfolk, Virginia, participated in the recent MCEC training.
“Anytime that you can partner with an organization that supports military children well like The Barry Robinson Center is a plus. BRC’s focus on supporting military children in a variety of ways provides a model for other organizations like ourselves. BRC really made this virtual training happen and it was well worth it,” said Mark Zafra, St. Pius X principal.
“We are still beginning the process of incorporating SEL deliberately into our curriculum. Trainings like the one we had helps gets us started on that path. The training gives us a jumping off point to learn more about student anxiety, military transitions, etc. For our faculty and staff, this means using the MCEC resources to learn more about this student population,” Zafra continued. “As a Purple Star designated school, we promise to continue to support our military families and this is a big way to do that.”
Military Support for Schools
BRC works frequently with staff at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who often refer children and teens for residential treatment. Dr. Shevelle Godwin, school liaison officer with Fort Bragg School Support Services, also participated in the training.
“Examining the four elements of social and emotional learning was an eye opener. Keeping the students SAFE is the true key to it all,” Godwin said. “It is truly what it is all about and what we all truly want to do is education. But students cannot learn if they do not feel safe in their environments.
“This is a training that should be heard by every major local education agency to ensure teachers are providing the SEL skills students need in schools today. It is my hope to continue to work with school superintendents as they work school psychologists to foster a better social emotional learning atmosphere and school wide practices along with policies which can ease transitions for all students,” she added. “It has to start at the hierarchy top and down into the classroom to ensure that it is modeled with the teachers.”
SEL in BRC’s School
Working with military-connected children and teens for the past few years, BRC’s teachers understand the effects of military lifestyles on families.
“I would recommend the training for any teacher. Teachers never know what their students have been through,” said Cindy Mills, director of BRC’s Education Department. “This training helps reinforce the uniqueness of each student and the need for us to support them and ‘meet them where they are’ to help them be successful in school, both socially and academically.”
MCEC provided many practical resources and applications that BRC teachers will put to use in the classroom over the coming months.
“The resources and handouts were awesome and will be useful in our classrooms,” said Julie Carey, assistant director of education. “The books have easy activities that could be used in class. These resources will be helpful to start using in summer school this year.”
Learn more about MCEC resources for professionals and parents.