Six more local schools earned the Ohio Department of Education’s Purple Star Award last week for their commitment to serving military-connected students and families.
Monticello and Charles Huber elementaries in Huber Heights, Morton Middle School in Vandalia-Butler, Ferguson Hall in Beavercreek, Stevenson Elementary in Mad River and the Warren County Career Center all were honored by the state. Ohio Connections Academy, an online school that serves hundreds of local students, also was deemed a Purple Star school.
Mad River Schools Superintendent Chad Wyen said children of military families deserve respect and admiration for their ability to adapt. He said those students are faced with challenges including dangerous deployments of their parents and repeated transfers to new schools that may not have all the same programs their previous schools had.
“The Purple Star Award is a tremendous honor that is reflective of the incredible support that Mad River provides to our military students and their families,” Wyen said. “I am extremely proud of everyone involved in these very successful partnerships between our schools and the military community at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”
Last week’s announcement of 57 Purple Star schools in Ohio is the fourth round of the awards. In previous rounds, Fairborn, Huber Heights and Vandalia-Butler each had multiple schools recognized. Other previous recipients have come from Northmont, Sugarcreek, Mad River, Beavercreek and Wayne Local schools, as well as the Dayton Regional STEM School.
“We’re honored to recognize these schools for creating inclusive and supportive communities for their military families,” said state school Superintendent Paolo DeMaria. “Purple Star schools provide our military children and families with the resources they need to be successful.”
To win the Purple Star Award, schools must have a staff liaison who is trained on key issues for military families and communicates those considerations to teachers working with affected students. They also must have a web page with resources for military families.
Then the school must have either a military recognition special event, a school board resolution of support, or training for additional staff members. The designation is good for two years, after which the school must re-apply to keep the Purple Star.
There are about 34,000 children in Ohio with one or more parents serving on active duty, reserve or Ohio National Guard status, according to ODE. Ohio Connections Academy has a special group working with military families.
“OCA’s Military Support Team (MiST) has been an important initiative for the school because it supports families that have committed themselves to serving their country and others,” said teacher and MiST leader Gene Stanford.