JVEF Forum highlights school/military education partnerships

| September 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

Dr. Christina Kishimoto, HIDOE superintendent, and Brig. Gen. John M. Hillyer (both center), mobilization assistant to the director of operations for U.S. Pacific Command, pose with military volunteers at the 16th annual Joint Venture Education Forum, Aug. 31, at the Kroc Center.

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer
KAPOLEI — Of the many challenges military families face in service to the country, constantly moving is one of the toughest.

It is especially hard on military children who change schools an average of six to nine times between kindergarten and the 12th grade, according to Military Child Education Coalition, an international nonprofit research organization.

Hawaii’s public school system has undertaken numerous efforts to help military children adapt to their new environment and succeed at their studies.

At the 16th annual Joint Venture Education Forum held at the Kroc Center on Aug. 31, the Hawaii State Department of Education and its military partners highlighted those efforts.


“JVEF is an important collaboration between the HIDOE and our military leadership,” said HIDOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “It is so important for us to make sure students, especially those who are transitioning between schools, receive the kind of welcome and support that make them feel like they are part of our family here in Hawaii.”

Hawaii has the highest number of military-dependent children per capita in the nation, according to the HIDOE. Approximately 14,000 students, or 8 percent of the public school population, are military students.

“Military-connected students and their families face unique challenges in adjusting to a new culture, school and community,” said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono. “JVEF’s collaborative programs ease that transition, and I will continue to fight for federal impact aid funding, so JVEF can continue its critical work.”

JVEF highlighted the following efforts undertaken to help Hawaii’s military students:

  • Transition Centers. These centers, formally known as K. Mark Takai Transition Centers, connect new students with student ambassadors who conduct school tours, arrange school lunches and offer social and academic support.

JVEF highlighted Kapolei Middle School’s transition center, which is home to its Wingman Program. New students sign a travel log to determine where they had lived before moving to Hawaii. They are then linked up with a student of the same age and gender who also moved from that area.

Most military-impacted schools in Hawaii have a K. Mark Takai Transition Center.

  • Military & Mentors. Sometimes military students need support from an understanding adult that is not a teacher or parent. At Hickam Elementary School, the formal Military & Mentors program allows active duty military personnel to mentor students.

The mentors spend one-on-one time with students, playing games, talking story and offering support and advice.

Hickam Elementary School officials said they have watched shy students blossom under the attention of their military mentors, while the mentors said they felt good knowing they had made a difference in the students’ lives.

Every military-impacted school in Hawaii has relationships with active duty service members, whether it be a formal mentorship program like Hickam Elementary’s, or having service members participate in school beautification projects and school sports days.

  • Solomon Elementary School. Solomon Elementary School on Schofield Barracks broke ground on a $90 million new campus in July. Officials expect students to begin using the new classrooms in the fall of 2019 and construction to be completed by the summer of 2021.

Funding for the campus came from a $70 million grant from the Department of Defense’s Office of Ecnomic Adjustment. The HIDOE contributed $20 million.

Also at JVEF, officials recognized 43 service members from all branches of the Armed Forces for their dedication to volunteer work at Hawaii’s public schools.

Two awards specifically highlighted the efforts of one service member and one civilian whose outstanding contributions helped Hawaii’s military students.

Those awards were as follows:

  • 2017 Daniel K. Inouye JVEF Outstanding Military Contributor Commendation Award. This award went to Coast Guard Chief Jon Franquez for his work in mentoring students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). He helped the students build remote operated vehicles and judged competitions of innovative creations from over 50 participating teams from elementary, middle and high schools.
  • 2017 K. Mark Takai Outstanding Civilian Contributor Commendation Award. This award went to Enrica Luz Guerrero for her outreach work with military students at Radford High School. Guerrero coordinates Radford’s Military Youth Advisory Council and School Community Council. She also coordinates Radford’s Transition Center, which supports new students.

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