As April comes to a close, we wrap up the Month of the Military Child. Earlier this month, the First Lady and I celebrated the one-year anniversary of Joining Forces. Over the past year, it has been so inspiring to see the commitments made by Americans across the country to support our military families—especially our military children.
Throughout my travels, so many military families have shared with me how important it is that schools create a supportive environment for military children. Last week, I had the honor of hosting the 2012 Teachers of the Year finalists at my home in Washington, D.C. This was my fourth year hosting this event and it is always one of my favorites. This year was even more special as I listened to stories about how these teachers – who are the best of the best – are supporting our military children in their schools and their communities.
Later in the week, I had the opportunity to visit Lee Hall Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia with Admiral James Winnefeld and Mrs. Mary Winnefeld. We attended an event in partnership with Old Dominion University that highlighted the importance of understanding the needs of our military-connected children. Schools like Lee Hall Elementary and Old Dominion have created programs that directly work to improve the support services for military students and their families.
The kind of work that is being done in Virginia is a model for programs that are being created all across the country to ease the challenges faced by military children and their families. For instance, ODU has developed a 12-credit Military Child and Families graduate certificate program through which teachers will soon be trained to address the needs of military-connected students; ODU is also working with local high schools to help increase military-connected student achievement. These programs can truly change the lives of students and offer extra support to the family – and that is what this month is all about.
From marking the anniversary of Joining Forces, to honoring the 2012 Teachers of the Year finalists, to seeing the inspiring work happening in Virginia schools, it has been an important month to create greater awareness of the needs of military kids. As Second Lady, a military mom, and a teacher, I’m pleased to see the progress being made and hope all Americans continue to find ways to support our nation’s military kids.