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NSA Panama City Celebrates 15th Anniversary of School Liaison Program
30 November 2022
From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Merritt
Panama City Beach, Fla. – For military families being able to find the educational resources they need or information regarding opportunities that will help their children reach academic success can be difficult.
On average Navy Sailors and their families move every three years. When it’s time for a military family to relocate, School Liaison Officers are used to help the transition go as smoothly as possible for their children.
Naval Support Activity Panama City School Liaison Officer (SLO) Erin Pickard spent 22 years as a school teacher before deciding she wanted to help other military children with their transition to a new school. As a military spouse and mother, she had an understanding of what military families were going through in this transition period.
“I think the idea of a child moving six to nine times during their school career and adjusting to a new town, state or county, leaving friends behind and not being able to have any long lasting consistent schedule for them is hard for kids.” said Erin.
The School Liaison Officer serves as the primary liaison between school, installation commanders and military parents.
“You have all these great people and all these different bases around the world working for one goal and that’s to serve military families,” Erin said “The best thing we can do is make the community be aware of the concerns and the needs of military families and bridging the gap on how we can assist them.”
SLOs help families with children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. They assist with everything from school transition support, deployment support, special education system navigation, homeschooling and postsecondary preparation.
SLOs also help parents navigate the special needs system in their new location by providing information about programs and services, referring families to special education professionals, and helping families navigate the administrative systems within local education agencies. These types of services enables parents to make informed decisions for their children.
The SLO program was founded in 2007 as a program that addresses the educational needs of Navy families. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the School Liaison Officer program.
“It’s showing people that we’ve survived and that this program is worth having,” said Erin “It’s a lot of reading, a lot of research and finding what the community has for these families and what we can provide and how I can bridge the gap and reassure the parents I can help them”
School Liaison Officers like Erin ensure military children are given the opportunities to achieve their highest potential at any assigned location and strive to empower parents to be their child’s best advocate in the education process.
Director, Public Affairs
Naval Support Activity Panama City
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