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Military Child Education Coalition supports local students

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.Posted

The Military Child Education Coalition is continuing its work, both locally and internationally, to positively impact the lives of military kids.

Headquartered in Harker Heights, the nonprofit works to empower its demographic through policy and legislation, and through programs for students, parents and professionals.

“Many of these kids are just strong,” said Cindy Simerly, spokeswoman for the coalition. “They have a depth of experience most of their peers don’t have. ... Their show of strength is really admirable.”

There are more than 2 million military children, with less than 8 percent of them attending Defense Department schools, according to the coalition’s student identifier.

Identifying their demographic helps learn the issues and trends and serve families, Simerly said.

Some of their policy work includes the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities, which helps military kids continue to be challenged in the classroom as well as participate in extracurricular activities.

As of May 2012, 43 states had signed the compact, including Texas.

While policy is a big piece of the coalition’s work, the community more often sees the programs provided through the coalition, Simerly said.

Some of the more popular programs include the peer support programs.

The Parent to Parent program serves about 3,000 parents each year in the local area, Simerly said. The Student to Student program is in seven area high schools, and 10 local middle schools.

Nishanth Lavendra, is not a military dependent, but participates in the Student to Student program at Belton High School. The program is run like a club, and greets all new students to the school, military or not. Aside from making new students feel welcome, the club also hosts monthly socials to see how newcomers are adjusting.

“I just like meeting new students and being part of a group that’s so dedicated,” said Lavendra, a junior.

He joined the club as a freshman, and was accepted into the Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program at West Point going on this week.

“I’ve never been to training before, so I’m very excited,” Lavendra said. “I’m just hoping I’ll learn a lot.”

Other programs offered through the coalition include Tell Me A Story, for younger children, and professional development programs which teach those working with military children how to better serve them or understand the challenges they face.

For more about the coalition go to www.militarychild.org.

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