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NEWS | Oct. 21, 2015

Randolph school district awarded grant to help military students

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

The Randolph Field Independent School District has received a $1.25 million grant from the Department of Defense that will focus on efforts to support the social and emotional needs of military students.

The Department of Defense Education Activity Educational Partnership grant will allow the district to provide programs for students at the elementary, middle and high school campuses, said Susan Bendele, RFISD associate superintendent.

Bendele said those programs include peer tutoring, student clubs, family support and behavior management.

Eighty percent of the school district’s 1,350 students, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, are children of an active-duty service member, Bendele said. Through the grant, Bendele said the district is providing resources for all students in the district, including those who are new and those whose parents are being deployed or on temporary duty.

“Military families have a very strong support network, but there’s always more need than can be met,” Bendele said. “Our hope is to provide a really strong additional level of support for military families and their kids. In general, just for their emotional health and wellbeing.”

Bendele said there are already student support clubs at the elementary, middle and high school campuses and that the district is hoping to expand those student support groups through the grant. She said programs with family support activities could include field trips.

“When you look at the mobility of military kids adjusting to new schools and new friends, we really wanted to say it’s not always just about academics,” Bendele said. “It’s  really about the whole child and how we can help in a broader sense.”

The behavior management aspect of the grant will include programs for helping special needs children, teaching children how to act in a social environment and how to handle their emotions, Bendele said.

Also, Bendele said, the grant will provide professional development for teachers, counselors and district staff to learn how they can best support children.

“What we hope for is that kids who are feeling emotionally supported and are socially comfortable will make better students,” Bendele said.

Bendele said the grant is for five years and that the district plans to start offering programs and services through the grant during the current school year.

The grant is the third one the Department of Defense Education Activity Educational Partnership has awarded RFISD since 2009. Bendele said the first two grants were focused on improving academic performance.

This year the Department of Defense Education Activity Educational Partnership awarded 56 grants that supported 298 schools in the U.S. with significant military-connected student populations. The total for all the grants is $63 million.

The grants help fund projects including those for science, technology, engineering and math, supporting the social and emotional needs of military students, encouraging parental involvement and opportunities for students to study strategic languages.