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Teachers: a line of defense for military children

School officials from all three Camp Pendleton-based elementary schools met at the base’s Stuart Mesa Elementary School for a special education conference, Jan. 29.

The purpose of the event was to better prepare educators to deal with the unique challenges military families face.

At the seminar, attendees from North Terrace, Mary Fay Pendleton and Stuart Mesa Elementary Schools, were exposed to various aspects of what active-duty service members’ experience. Some topics covered were Afghani culture, pre-deployment training and types of operations conducted overseas. These subjects laid the foundation to discuss how children and spouses are affected by military operations.

“This will raise educators’ level of awareness when it comes to the needs of military children and parents,” said Dr. Lois Grazioli, principal, Stuart Mesa Elementary School.

The presentation also revealed tools to help detect stress, imbalance and other emotional disorders among students.

“It was interesting to get an insight on military operations,” said Laurie Parizeau, 4th-grade teacher, Stuart Mesa Elementary School. “This event provided some great tools for addressing issues military families go through.”

Teachers spend about 35 hours a week with students. They can be the first line of defense in identifying issues students may have. With this training, they are better equipped to ask the right questions and point to helpful outside resources.

“It’s great that they’re taking additional steps to reach out to service members’ children,” said Sgt. Steven Serrano, senior intelligence analyst, general staff intelligence, I Marine Expeditionary Force. “The teachers are secondary caregivers.”

The educational staff expressed, in numerous ways, their appreciation to the military for all that they do. But service members in attendance believed that the teachers were more deserving of gratitude.

“Thank you, for everything you do,” said Maj. Victor Pastor, current intelligence operations officer, general staff intelligence, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, to the teachers in attendance. “Teachers are a big part of a child’s life and will often notice things that need to be addressed. They are an important line of defense for military families’ difficult issues,” he said.

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