“We’ve been a military school district for a long time,” Fairborn City Schools spokesperson Pamela Gayheart said. “Kids come in and they’re pretty easily accepted.”
Gayheart said it was important for Fairborn, which is located close to Wright-Patt, to be military friendly.
In order to receive the two-year designation, schools must provide a staff point of contact between military families and the school, provide resources for military families on its website and more optional activities, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Optional activities can include special recognition events, school board resolutions to publicize the district’s resources or providing additional professional development and staff resources.
This round of awards was Ohio’s third. The program began in 2017 as a joint effort by the Ohio departments of Education, Higher Education, Veterans Services and Adjutant General to acknowledge schools that go above and beyond to support military families.
“A supportive school environment can have a significant impact on our military-connected students, and we’re happy to see such a great interest in this designation by Ohio’s schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria. “These Purple Star schools provide our children and families with the resources they need to be successful. We’re thankful for their service and honored to continue the important work of improving services for Ohio’s military families.”
The designation means schools do more than just say they welcome military families, said Jasmine Tolbert, whose husband is an Airman.
Tolbert’s five children, whose ages range from 6 to 16, attend Mad River School District. One of the district’s schools, Beverly Garden Elementary School, was among the first Purple Star schools in 2017.
“I feel like Mad River Schools has done the work, not just to say that they appreciate and welcome military families, but that they’ve gone out of their way to show it,” Tolbert said.
Tolbert, who is originally from California, moved to Dayton when her husband, a tech sergeant and soon-to-be master sergeant, was assigned to Wright-Patterson. She said school support can help mitigate some of the challenges military families face.
“Deployment and any type of separation between a military member and their family is always looming,” Tolbert said.
Purple Star Schools
These local schools recieved a Purple Star Award in the most recent round of selections, meaning they completed several requirements to be designated as a military-friendly district.
- Baker Middle School, Fairborn City Schools
- Butler High School, Vandalia-Butler City Schools
- Dayton Regional STEM School
- Demmitt Elementary School, Vandalia-Butler City Schools
- Englewood Elementary Schools, Northmont City Schools
- Fairborn Primary School, Fairborn City Schools
- Helke Elementary School, Vandalia-Butler City Schools
- Rushmore Elementary School, Huber Heights City Schools
- Smith Middle School, Vandalia-Butler City Schools,
- Valley Forge Elementary School, Huber Heights City Schools
- Wayne High School, Huber Heights City Schools
- Weisenborn Junior High School, Huber Heights City Schools
- Wright Brothers Elementary School, Huber Heights City Schools
- Wayne Local Schools, Waynesville
SOURCE: The Ohio Department of Education