Cumberland County Schools welcoming feedback from military families with launch of new program

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County Schools launched the Military Family Advisory Council, and they are welcoming feedback from military families about some of the challenges they face.

"It is a kind of a committee, that is going to meet quarterly to address some of the challenges and concerns that military-connected students and families face as they enter into our school system," said Dr. Stefanie Shook, federal programs student support specialist.

More than 25 percent of Cumberland County students are military-connected.

"Military-connected students will transition about six to nine times in their academic careers," said Dr. Shook. "They face deployments where one of their parents will go overseas, sometimes into a theater where there will be active combat zones and training exercises, new schools, leaving old friends, making new friends. So there's a lot of challenges that are very unique to military kids."

The district is conducting a survey to help determine some of those challenges and how to address them.

"What we're looking to do is increase the support that we have here in Cumberland County," said Dr. Shook. "So this is phase one of our Military Family Advisory Council, and we've got an additional phase where we're going to speak directly to some students that experience those transitions and we're going to use that information to address some of those challenges that we see and create some solutions."

US Army Chief Warrant Officer Three Julian Burris and his wife have two daughters who go to high school in Cumberland County. CW3 Burris is based at Fort Bragg. He has seen firsthand the challenges military children can face.

"When we came here from Germany back in 2016, my kids didn't really know anybody here," said Burris. "So trying to make friends and trying to get ingratiated into the curriculum here was a little bit different for them, because they're taught a different way in DOD school systems, but they later transitioned and were able to meet friends and now I have kids that are into sports, doing other activities and stuff."

"A lot of times being on a military installation, you grow up with the people in your installation and sometimes call of duty says 'hey, we have to go to another installation or another part of the world' and just trying to get integrated into the new social norms here because you're leaving your friends behind, you're leaving what you know behind to start all over," said Burris. "So that sense of starting over can be difficult, especially for younger children."

Burris said he plans on filling out the survey.

"I think the county is doing good so far, but just bringing that awareness, bringing that empathy and that compassion to say, 'Hey, I understand that your mom and dad are not here, but we have resources available to help you cope with that," CW3 Burris said.

Military families have until January 7 to fill out the survey.
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