Barksdale, schools strengthen bonds

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Military Child Education Coalition has helped improve relationship between base, community

Bossier is a community that takes pride in its relationship with the military. With April being the Month of the Military Child, this relationship is highlighted by the effort to help settle new students who have relatives in active duty, reserve, and are veterans.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working for more than a decade with the community here, and I know and see the people in the school district, installation, and community who really make it happen when they say they’re a military-friendly community,” said Dr. Mary Keller, president and CEO of Military Child Education Coalition.

The Military Child Education Coalition and Bossier Parish School Board have partnered with the sponsorship of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce to have Georgette Price serve as Military Student Transition Consultant for new students, who are the relatives of military servicemen and women, moving to the area.

“While my focus is the military child, I’m also focused on how I can alleviate the burdens on school employees. So some of the things I’m able to do in the schools is support groups at different schools to provide that level of care that can’t be accomplished at schools,” said Georgette.

“Many times the needs of the adult can take precedent over the needs of the child because the adults can advocate for themselves,” said Dr. Keller. “Georgette is here to give a voice to the child, help navigate the uncertain waters of moving to a new community. The first impression does make a lasting difference and it makes all the difference that their first impression is one of caring.”

For the more than 2,000 military children in the Bossier Parish school system, her involvement and that of the coalition has made all the difference.

“We measure success one child at a time,” said Dr. Keller. “It’s when a child comes in with special needs and Georgette can address those needs, and when she can support children preparing for a move.”

“Success for me is that most of the parents I speak to are referrals from other parents and the kids I work with think I’m awesome,” laughed Georgette.

The success has been created by an environment of support from all the parties involved.

“I saw a redoubling of the effort to pay attention to military children and that has strengthened the bond between the military and the community,” said Dr. Keller. “This is a collaborative effort. Success started with common ground and the resources put in to support Georgette.”

Lt. Gen. Steve Wilson played matchmaker to set the Bossier Chamber up with the coalition. From the planning stages on, Barksdale has been integral.

“I am able to meet with Wing Commander Col. Andrew Gebara to update him on our military families and I can call vice commanders for advice,” said Georgette. “I’m really connected with other military spouses and the youth center on base. They’ve been very welcoming of what I do here.”

With the month of April casting light on the sacrifices made by military children, the Bossier Chamber is urging local businesses to “Purple Up” (the official color of the Military Child Education Coalition) by wearing the color and offering special discounts to or events for active duty and retired military and their families. There will also be an official Purple Up Day celebration April 25 at 1:30 p.m. at Cope Middle School.

“It’s important to let military children know their sacrifice is important and that we appreciate their family serves,” said Dr. Keller.