PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (May 1, 2023) – As peak PCS season approaches, U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey School Liaison Officer Dana Ganaden is confident in her ability to help military families navigate everything related to schools.
“It’s important for people to know that I’ve walked in their shoes, and I’ve experienced the same struggles that they have,” said Ganaden, a military spouse for 26 years who helped her daughter change schools every two to three years.
The military moving season starts May 15 and continues to Sept. 30 each year, and thousands of military children will switch to a new school during that period. For those coming to Monterey, Ganaden provides all schooling information for the Monterey Peninsula, including public, private, charter and home-school options. Ganaden also runs the installation’s Youth Sponsorship Program, which can help military children get in touch with peers before they even arrive.
While members of the Monterey community have a good sense of how to welcome military-connected students, contacting Ganaden before arrival is helpful because of her expertise and ability to answer specific questions.
For example, Ganaden is familiar with the provisions of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, an interstate compact that provides uniform treatment as military children transfer between districts in member states.
The compact has helped military-connected students by allowing parents to receive a copy of transcripts to hand deliver to a new school; allowing students to transfer from one state history class to another in the middle of the year; and requiring schools to give athletes a chance to try out for a team after the official tryout period, Ganaden said. Those are just three examples out of many.
In addition, the Youth Sponsorship Program can help immensely with socialization, Ganaden said. She also briefs family members about other social opportunities, such as the USAG PoM Youth Sports Program, clubs, and other organizations.
“Those types of things really help to bring connection and belonging very quickly so that there’s less of a feeling of loss from having to lose their past friendships,” Ganaden said. “They now have new friendships and new experiences that they can look forward to.”
Ganaden, who holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, has worked for Army Child and Youth Services for more than 15 years, and started as the school liaison officer in January.
“I can say right off the bat that I can see the difference that a school liaison makes in helping youth find that sense of belonging and connection and those families being then able to focus on their mission knowing that their child has that sense of community,” Ganaden said.
Education is important to military families, and it is important they know school liaison officers are available, said Ganaden, who is available to help throughout the year, not just during PCS season. School liaison officers know the laws and can provide parents with the resources they need to advocate for themselves and their children.
Ganaden said she became an expert in removing educational obstacles for her daughter when she was a military child, and she looks forward to sharing her knowledge with others.
“I’m now in a position to be able to take down those obstacles and make that pathway clear for [military families],” Ganaden said. “I’m proud. I’m proud to be able to serve them and do that for them and their children.”
Contact Ganaden at firstname.lastname@example.org or (831) 915-0542. Learn more about the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, often called the MIC3, at https://mic3.net.