Schools and Family Program Staff

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As a Family Program staff member, you can provide general information to teachers and school districts. You may, in fact, be giving school personnel their first glimpse into the challenges a child faces when a parent is deployed. By spreading knowledge about deployment issues, you can help ensure that school personnel, in turn, will be more understanding and supportive of their students. Practicing your communication skills can help you deliver effective presentations to school personnel.

Family Program staff can educate school personnel on deployment issues.

A Family Program staff member can, ideally, communicate with school personnel to provide educational material and general information. Family Program staff should seek to involve teachers and staff in students’ personal struggles for two main reasons. First, students model their behaviors after adults. A teacher’s response can significantly affect the outcome of a student’s experience. Second, a teacher’s involvement in and understanding of a child’s situation can help to foster a sense of class cohesiveness and support.

School staff members can benefit from general information on deployment awareness, family issues, and military culture.

Reach out through both firm and soft contacts.

As a Family Program staff member, you must develop a strong presence in order to successfully establish a connection with a school community. This may begin with a phone call, a presentation, or a letter—but it doesn’t end there. A strong relationship is achieved by creating multiple connections within a school district and by nurturing those relationships through communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

A firm contact is a form of communication that requires a response from the end recipient (such as an email, a phone call, or a face-to-face interaction), and is best used when building relationships. A soft contact does not require a response from the end recipient (e.g., a thank-you card or newsletter) and acts as a reminder or educational tool.

Finding the balance between firm and soft contacts will allow you to stay fresh in your audience’s mind without overwhelming them—or you.

To spread your message, present at school board or teachers’ meetings.

Family Program staff can present to a school board or at a teachers’ meeting about prevalent issues affecting a community or commonly affecting children. A simple web search should provide you with contact information for your local public school district and superintendent’s office. By calling this office directly (or looking online), you can gather information about school board agendas and identify the right people to talk to in order to get permission to speak.

These tips can help you prepare and deliver an effective presentation.

When preparing remarks, materials, and slides, keep the following points in mind (adapted from tips offered by the Small Schools Project):

  • Delete “educationese.” If parents or other community members are attending a meeting, you want your message to be accessible to all, and not to sound like jargon.
  • When possible, include both statistics and anecdotes in presentations. Include data about a child’s behavior or what he or she might typically experience in a given scenario (e.g., when going through a deployment)—but include anecdotal evidence, such as stories of specific children who benefit from support or who have an interesting story to tell.
  • Include students and parents in presentations whenever possible. This can bring life to the ideas and scenarios you are talking about.
  • Don’t “surprise” the administration. Remember that some administrators will want to review your presentation before a meeting. It’s a good idea to send handouts or slides along to board members before a meeting, in case they do want to review. This will also help them focus on what you’re actually saying during your presentation, rather than compel them to read the material you’ve just handed out.
  • Keep your presentation shorter than the time you are allotted to allow time for questions.
  • Let audience members know where they can find additional information or resources on your topic.
  • Thank board members and teachers for their time and interest, no matter how you feel the presentation went. School board service is generally unpaid and time-consuming—and board members generally hear more criticism than appreciation.
Click to open interactivity These tips can help you hone your public speaking skills.

These tips can help you hone your public speaking skills.

Click here to download 10 Tips for Public Speaking

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