LEESVILLE, La. - For many military families, the most difficult part about moving to a new duty station can be transitioning and integrating children into a new school district. Military Student Transition Consultants Adrian Todd and Sue Lopez are present at schools across Vernon Parish to ease the transition process for military students through guidance and connections to resources.
"For some military children, it's very hard to keep moving from school to school," Todd said. "So this is an opportunity to really intervene early with these children to make sure that we're trying to do as much as we can to make these transitions as smooth as possible."
Todd serves students at Parkway Elementary School, Vernon Middle School, Leesville Junior High School, and Pickering Elementary School, as well as Pickering High School (for grades 7 and 8 only).
"My responsibility is to work with new military children coming into the district from other areas to make sure they are not having transition challenges," Todd said. "So basically, I'm making sure they are adjusting to the new school and academics. We want to ensure they're getting accustomed to the school structure and environment and that they're connecting with teachers and peers."
Lopez works with military students at Hicks High School, Pickering High School, Leesville High School and Leesville Junior High School, as well as Rosepine High School (for grades 9-12).
"As a military spouse of 20 years who has moved every two years and transitioned my own students through college, I think it's essential to have somebody there to answer those questions," Lopez said. "It's difficult unless you have insider perspective and help."
As MSTCs, Lopez and Todd provide answers for the Vernon Parish School Board and Fort Polk, installation resource information, campus team resource information, assistance with enrollment processes, transition support, help with special education issues, and education information for parents, school personnel, installation and community members.
"We're just making sure that the incoming military students have a nice and warm welcome, and let them understand that we'll provide a continuum of care if they keep an open relationship with us," Lopez said. "They can contact us any time, and we will try to find the answer and get back to them."
MSTCs are not only available for students transitioning into the district, but also as they're moving out.
"We can help them think outside of their box and think broadly across the transition into and out of the district. We can assist them along their journey here in Vernon Parish, but we would also love to provide national resources to those transitioning out also. We're here for them."
Todd said there are many benefits of having MSTCs present in Vernon Parish schools.
"Normally, if we're able to be successful with the children in helping them navigate the system, the children tend to do better academically. They'll also do better socially and emotionally," Todd said. "They tend to be more resilient, so the next transition might now be as challenging. The goal is to make sure kids feel and understand, 'I've done this before. I can do this again, and I'm going to be OK.'"
The MSTC program is a partnership between Vernon Parish School Board and the Military Child Education Coalition. For more information, visit www.vpsb.us or www.MilitaryChild.org