By Staff Sgt. Keith AndersonAugust 22, 2012
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Teaching military children here presents unique challenges and opportunities, the post's senior military commander told administrators, teachers and support staff Aug. 21 at a district-wide meeting.
Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, commanding general, Army North, and senior commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis, addressed Fort Sam Houston Independent School District personnel at the district's annual convocation in the Robert G. Cole Middle School Atrium.
"The challenges you face are greater than you'd find in any other school district," said Caldwell. "We are incredibly appreciative of what you do for our children, and what you do will have a lasting impact."
Because Fort Sam Houston is one of the premier bases for treating severe injuries, the post has a higher population of Wounded Warriors and their families than most installations, and many children of Wounded Warriors attend school on base, he said.
Also, as anywhere in the military, many children have parents who are deployed. And military children have to move a lot, which is difficult for the children, and also for the district, in planning the number of teachers and staff they will need each year, he said.
Despite the unique stressors that military children face, they overcome challenges and are more successful than many of their civilian counterparts, said Caldwell.
"Military children make better grades, have higher IQ's, are healthier, have lower rates of delinquency and are more likely to go to college," said Caldwell, referencing a Jan. 2011 study in the American Psychologist.
The strength of military families, the access to health care and the excellent schools make the difference, said Caldwell. He also highlighted some resources available to military children, such as the Military Child Education Coalition, a non-profit organization that serves around the world as an advocate for military children as they strive to meet the challenges of frequent transitions, parental deployments, loss and trauma.
There are three keys to being a great teacher, he said.
"Have a passion for teaching, get to know your students and make learning come alive," said Caldwell.
Caldwell discussed the impact of his most recent deployment on his own children, who are attending school in the district, and thanked teachers, counselors and staff for their sensitivity and their efforts working with military children.
"Every day you are preparing them for the future, using your own time after school and on weekends," said Caldwell. "You're helping to raise our children, serving as role models and instilling values."
The general's remarks at the back-to-school convocation were appreciated, said Gail Siller, superintendent, Fort Sam Houston ISD.
"It was a great way to start the school year," said Siller. "It was very evident to all that he cares deeply about education and our military children we serve. Because of his expertise and perspective as a parent and senior military officer who has been deployed, as well as his unique understanding of our installation, I knew he would help our teachers and staff better understand the needs of our military-connected students and their families."
For Deborah Hoffman, a new teacher to the school district, teaching on base has been a longtime goal.
"I grew up as a military dependent," said Hoffman. "My dad was stationed here. There is a lot of tradition, a lot of pride, here."
Hoffman said the commanding general's address was moving.
"It was very touching for me, made me more aware of how important it is to help these children," she said.