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Working with Military Families Workshop

Strengthening Pre-Service Teachers’ Effectiveness in Working with Military-Connected Students and their Families



Jacksonville, Florida is home to over 50,000 active duty and government service civilian workers, which leads to a unique population that is prevalent in our surrounding schools—the military-connected child.
There are over 25,000 military-connected students in the Jacksonville Metropolitan area and more than 10,000 military-connected students in surrounding areas who attend our local schools.



The College of Education and Human Services (COEHS), in response to the overwhelmingly large amount of military-connected students attending local public schools, seeks to actively prepare our pre-service teachers to serve this unique population of students and their families through our bi-annual professional development workshop entitled "Strengthening Future Teachers' Ability to be Effective and Supportive Teachers of Students from Military Families Workshop".


To provide our pre-service teachers with:

  • Knowledge of the military presence and population in the Jacksonville metropolitan area, particularly in our public schools,
  • The profile of the military child including the psychological, social, academic and emotional issues and strengths they possess
  • The role of the school and teacher in creating a successful school experience for the child and his or her family
  • The role of the school liaison officer as a resource person for families, teachers and students,
  • A working knowledge of the divisions of the military, the language of the military, and how understanding the nature of the military family life can assist them in working most effectively with families
  • A wealth of resources available for teachers, parents, families and students to assist in navigating school change,  addressing students’ feelings about key events such as deployment of a parent, or family member and creating a supportive and understanding classroom atmosphere.


We offer valuable instruction, information, and resources on the psychological, social, academic, and emotional challenges of military-connected students and how teachers can help accommodate this unique population in their future classrooms. 

We understand that it is best to learn from someone who has “been there and done that”, which is why our workshop is primarily run by local School Liaison Officers as well as military-connected teachers and family members. This small, yet impactful, difference makes us stand apart from other professional development workshops. 



Sponsors and Donors

Ken Hecht

Danny Berenberg


Program Managers

Dr. Cathy O’Farrell, Director, COEHS Office of Academic Support and Information Services

Dr. Nicholas Eastham, COEHS Coordinator, Educational Technology Center

Ms. Amanda Laukitis, COEHS Coordinator of Events Planning, Office of Academic Support and Information Services


Partners and Presenters

Ray Wikstrom, UNF MVRC Director 

Caron Bayuk Johnson, UNF MVRC Assistant Director, VA Certifying Official

Clainetta Jefferson, School Liaison Officer, NSB, Kings Bay, Georgia  

Dawn Mills, School Liaison Officer, NAS Jax

Sharon Kasica, School Liaison Officer, NS Mayport

Vicky Perkins, Representative from Blue Star Families 

Susan Rucker, LCMFT, Counseling and Advocacy, Fleet and Family Support Center

Gregory B. Tanner, Exceptional Family Member Program Liaison, NS Mayport

Various military-connected volunteers (parents and educators)


From the first workshop in fall 2013 to the most recent, many interns have received information that will assist them in being more effective in the teaching and learning of military-connected students!


Comments from attendees:


    “Military students are a population of students that are often forgotten and I like that we were given more information about how to help these students.”


    “Thank you. This was very important information that need to be shared.”


    “Information presented at this seminar was long ‘overdue’! The content was quite useful and definitely something teachers and anyone working with military children and families need to know.”


    “The resources presented were the best part! I had no idea SLOs [School Liaison Officers] existed!”


    “Hearing from the panel of military families helped me understand specific needs of military students and how much impact teachers really do have.”


Strengthening Connections

Tool Kits and Contact Information

Books for Military Children 

Operation Educate the Educators

Military Child Education Coalition 

Interactive eBook: Military Connected Students in the Classroom

Kansas State University College of Education’s Live-Binder

Brief Workshop Description