Students of Military Parents Connect Through School Program
Making new friends can be difficult at any age. Children of military-connected parents have the added difficulties of switching locations and schools. The Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC), a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) partner, has a program to help ease these difficulties for students.
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Since 2004, the MCEC Student 2 Student® program has helped connect civilian and military-connected students to not only ease the transition of starting a new school but continue to strengthen that relationship if the military student moves again.
Civilian students and teachers can volunteer to help new, military-connected students through the program. These volunteers meet with potential new students before they enroll in the school. They are paired based on similar interests. Amber Kettinger, a literature teacher at Rocky Mountain Classical Academy, explained these meet-and-greets help kickstart those connections. “We can learn what they’re into, and we can share those interests with their teacher if they enroll in our school. We also pair them with two buddies and give them a tour of the school.”
Amber added that the student volunteers go all out to make new students feel welcome. “A sign will be made for a car, or we will have their desk decorated for when they arrive. They will have already met two people in their classroom. We want their welcome to be a big deal. It’s been so successful.
“Welcoming them and cheering for them helps ease nervousness when coming to this school before their first day. They’ve already met so many people and already know a familiar face.”
Aside from the benefits of Student 2 Student for new kids, it also helps build relationships between military-connected and civilian kids. “Being part of the program has been a phenomenal experience,” Amber said. “It has been an avenue for us to bridge the gap for our military and civilian students. We have a high military population, but even our kids that aren’t military struggle when having to say goodbye, especially during the year. This program allows us to continue that relationship when they leave.”
Connection at All Levels
Gregory (Greg) Morris, a counselor at Widefield High School, said the Student 2 Student program also helps at the high school level. “High school students have a lot of different classes. The students will first meet with the counselors and be paired with a student that will stick with them all day long for several days. The student volunteers will take the new kid to class and pick them up and take them to their next class. After a few days, they decide if they need more time with the volunteers. We also do other activities as a follow-up after the first couple of days.”
Greg said the Student 2 Student program helps not just the students but the entire school. “It really makes a big impact on the school as a whole. No one likes walking in where you don’t know everyone. This program creates a culture where the kids know the teachers better. This is really helping our school. It’s a culture changer. It’s pretty fantastic.”
No single organization can meet every need of those who serve or their families. WWP’s partnership with MCEC allows for a broader reach in helping the families of those who serve and ensures their kids never feel alone either. Connection is not just a vital part of adulthood, but development as well.
Vivica Torrez, a student at Rocky Mountain Classical Academy and three-year volunteer in the Student 2 Student program, knows how helpful the connection has been for her confidence. “When I first joined, I was terrified of speaking in front of people. I’ve gotten a lot better at speaking in front of people since joining Student 2 Student, and now I’m even helping other people do that as I welcome them into the school.”
Contact: Erin Cinney — Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.832.5326
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.