SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
A team of elementary school students and faculty waited inside the doorway of the newly remodeled Meadow Lane Elementary School to greet Wayne County educators and military leaders for the annual Wayne County Public Schools and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Military Child Education Coalition.
Approximately 55 educators and military leaders discussed improvement plans for the school district and financial obligations of developing schools.
“Currently, seven of the education buildings are between 70-100 years old,” said Dr. Michael Dunsmore, Wayne County Public Schools superintendent. “Years ago, prior to the renovation of Meadow Lane, students would have to leave the building to use the bathroom. There’s a huge need here for financial support and we’re encouraging support for the four percent sales tax on the ballot. I believe all of our students deserve buildings similar to the remodeled Meadow Lane.”
Support of the sales tax is a critical part to the timely improvement of the schools throughout the district.
The military coalition program began in 2004 to mitigate issues for military families in the area. Today, four military liaisons within the county aid students transitioning in and out of the area, deal with deployments, grieving for a loved one and inform students of greater education challenges with Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
“We have children in Wayne County that move here from all over the world,” said Dr. David Lewis, Assistant Superintendent Accountability Information Technology
“Our programs are built to deal with the problems they face. We’ve learned that our improvements not only improve the military students, but all of our students.”
The attendees, ranging in teaching experiences, patiently listened as Col. Montgomery recounted the experiences of his daughter, who was a former student at the old Meadow Lane Elementary School. The group identified with his experiences as a parent and service member within the area as he highlighted different perspectives throughout his career.
“This school paints a picture of how we’re progressing in our Wayne County education system,” said Col. Brian Montgomery, 4th Fighter Wing vice commander. “Meadow Lane provides an anchor for our military service members to trust the education system and to discount the myth that this is a bad area. The folks that come here to Wayne County fall in love with it. After 13 moves, my wife and I would put the educators in this area up against anywhere we’ve been.”
A few of the educators in attendance had been instrumental in the changes throughout the years from Desert Storm to Operation Enduring Freedom.
Wayne County student services and innovative programs. “Our goal is to provide unique options in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). said Dr. Marcia K. Manning. Manning thoroughly explained the implementation of STEM learning concept, learning tools and teaching practices through a power point presentation.
STEM education is a modern approach to middle and prep school curriculum that concusses on the real-world application of STEM disciplines. The program, which is underway in all of the Wayne County's Public Middle Schools, seeks to bridge the gap between the skills many prep students have when they complete high school and the skills needed to evoke innovation in the workforce and higher education systems. This is accomplished through direct communication, collaboration and partnerships among STEM educators in the classroom, local businesses, existing industry and secondary education institutions.
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has increased its support to the STEM Club in recent years. Currently, Beebots, Ozmo Coding with Awbie, Makey Makey’s, Sphero Mini and Bolt, green screens, Turing Tumblers, Legos, EV3s – Robotics, mousetrap games and prop racer sets are available for students. As funding increases, the plan is to implement these programs at each school within Wayne County.
To culminate the meeting, Meadow Lane students delivered 5-minute presentations to small breakout groups. Each group received a full explanation of the new student toolkits designed to help students during tough times. The deployment kit, similar to those given to military family members at SJAFB, provides alternatives to deal with loneliness and a transition kit provides options on how to create new friends during a potential move.
Each student left their group by asking a question about their teddy bear named “Cuzzie.” The lead presenter would ask the group if they knew why his name was “Cuzzie”. The answer was innocent and simple enough that it made the attendees chuckle each time. Because he cares.
“When someone looks at an area, one of the first places they look at are the schools and their ratings,” said Montgomery. Those ratings are created from their funding and how many students attend the school. The new renovations to Meadow Lane allow us to say that we not only have the schools on our side, but we have the community on our side as well. For us to have a top-notch school, state of the art facility is just another great selling point to recruit some of the best in brightest our Air Force has to offer.”