Representatives from central Texas area school districts met with Fort Hood leaders to discuss how districts serve military-affiliated students at the annual school council meeting at the Fort Hood Community Events Center September 16.
Colonel Chad R. Foster, Commander of the US Army Garrison at Fort Hood, briefed school districts on progress at Fort Hood. He said most units at the facility would actually be in central Texas, instead of being deployed, for the next 12 to 18 months.
Discussing the Fort Hood Adopt-a-School program, the Garrison Commander said he saw this time as an opportunity for units and their adopted schools to complete many great projects together. Foster thanked the Districts for all of their hard work while dealing with all issues related to COVID-19, including the strong partnership he has witnessed between units and schools over the past few weeks during the meeting and of the Adopt-a-School reception.
“The soldiers are giving a lot and they will continue because they understand, we understand, that none of this would be successful without all of you, without the leaders, without the educators,” Foster added. “You realize it. You are making sure this goes smoothly and safely and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. “
Matt Smith, superintendent of the Belton Independent School District, opened the school district discussion by briefing Fort Hood officials on how quickly the district is growing. He said the district currently has 700 more students than in October 2020.
BISD director said the district believes learning goes beyond the four walls of the classroom – it takes place on the football field, in the music room and anywhere a teacher can make a difference in life. of a student.
The district recently received an Army National Guard grant to set up an esports lab for Lake Belton High School. The aim of e-sports labs is to enable students to eventually pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Our primary goal at Belton ISD is to ensure that our students have an exceptional learning experience every day. This means that when a student walks through our doors, we want to make sure that we are meeting their needs where they are, ”said Smith. “We make sure we hear them, see them and meet their needs as a family.”
Amanda Crawley, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services at Copperas Cove ISD, discussed the district’s strong Adopt-a-School program. Martin Walker Elementary and the 91st Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division received the Partnership of the Year Award 2021, the top prize in the Adopt-a-School program. Both the school and the unit were also awarded the title of Outstanding Academic Contact Point of the Year and Outstanding Unit Contact Point of the Year.
Despite the challenges faced during COVID, Crawley said students performed well on state standardized tests, exceeding state and regional averages for the 2020-2021 school year.
CCISD has partnered with the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas to provide telepsychology and telepsychiatry services to children with TCHATT (Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine).
“If our students have mental health needs and we know it’s a tough time for everyone right now, we just want to make sure we’re looking after the child as a whole,” Crawley explained. .
Paul Michalewicz, director of Florence ISD, said that they have also started using TCHATT, with excellent results.
“This is something that has been very well received,” he added.
While the superintendent of Jarrell ISD was unable to attend the meeting, Laura Buckley, director of state and federal programs at Jarrell ISD, briefed Fort Hood officials on the growth of the district. The small school district has grown to nearly 3,000 students and hired 28 additional teachers.
John Craft, superintendent of KISD, said the district is now the largest military district in the United States, with 44,000 students and growing. Due to the increase in student numbers, the district will add a sixth high school for the 2022-2023 school year.
“Chaparral High School will be one of the largest high schools in the state of Texas,” Craft said.
As a result of the expansion, the neighborhood will experience a zoning change, which will affect approximately 2,800 families. Craft said they will work with the families of current sophomores and juniors, who would like to stay in their current high school. Due to dezoning, students living in Fort Hood will be dezoned at Shoemaker High School.
Chane Rascoe, superintendent of ISD Lampasas, said the small district has 3,900 students.
Rascoe was delighted to share that the district has partnered up with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program created by the famous country superstar to provide free age-appropriate books for students. Since its inception in 1995, the program has expanded to five countries and offers more than one million pounds per month.
Salado ISD representative Ted Smith, principal of Salado Middle School, discussed the district’s partnership with BISD, which allows students at Salado High School to use the swimming pools at Belton High School.
Smith said Salado ISD has won the College Inter-School League in reading for the past 20 years, an impressive achievement for the small district.
Smith said the district also plans to increase its partnership with its Adopt-a-School program units this year.
“We challenge Copperas Cove ISD to have the most robust Adopt-a-School program,” he said.
Following the school district discussions, two Adopt-a-School unit representatives explained how districts can expand the partnership with their units.
Major Brent Beadle, 1st Medical Brigade, suggested units and schools know their partner organization. While the 1st med. Bde. can’t provide tanks or helicopters for static displays which kids enjoy, they can go to schools and talk to them about things like medical and dental health.
Beadle also recommended that units and schools remain in communication. During the winter storm in February, the unit supported students at the school who did not have access to fresh water, delivering water to the homes of students without water.
1st Lt. Conner Steele, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, said the students view the soldiers as superheroes. He recommends that soldiers actively engage students to maintain their interest, while incorporating questions to keep their minds active.
“You’d be surprised how much energy these kids have… and I wasn’t ready for the first time,” Steele said, as the crowd laughed.
He said soldiers have the opportunity to impact the lives of students in more than one way. He said as soon as he walked through the doors of Garcia Elementary School in Temple, the students started screaming in excitement, “The soldiers are here! The soldiers are here!
“They set a standard for you,” Steele concluded. “I challenge you to step up and be what they see you as a superhero.”