General, Daughter Praise Mentorship for Parents, Students
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
HOUSTON, Jul. 14, 2006 A top Army general and his daughter praised the Military Child Education Coalition for the organization's work helping military parents and their children cope with challenges during transitions from one school to another.
Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward, deputy commander of U.S. European Command, and his daughter, Kahni Ward, spoke here yesterday during the MCEC's eighth annual conference.
"I'm grateful to MCEC for all they have done for the military community and to build bridges in local communities where military installations are located," Kahni said.
"I think that one of the most extraordinary things about MCEC is the role you have taken as mentors," her father added. "You, as an organization, mentor parents in being the best educational advocates they can be, and you mentor our children through the educational process."
Mentorship is an age-old tradition in the military, the Wards said.
"Mentorship within the military community isn't limited to the active-duty servicemembers," said Kahni, who is chief of staff for the District of Columbia's Office of Contracting and Procurement. "Mentorship thrives throughout the military community. MCEC is a network of mentors specifically there for the students and their parents."
She said things like the "Student 2 Student" program are great examples of mentorship. The program uses peer connection to mentor students as they transition from school to school. "This program wasn't available while I was growing up, but I see the tremendous value in it for acclimating incoming students," she said.
Within schools, the Defense Department and communities, teachers are critical mentors, often personally helping students living with deployment and transition issues, Kahni noted.
"While these forms of mentorship all help military community members, the most important forms of mentorship start right in the home," Ward said.
He said in his more than 35 years in the Army, he came to understand that military servicemembers value education. "It's part of our culture. From the first primary military education basic course through various stages of noncommissioned officer education system to year-long mid- and senior-level education, or working after duty hours to achieve the next degree, (education) is part of who we are.
"I believe this is the model our children see and part of the reason they're typically above-average students," Ward said.
The Wards said the atmosphere of mentorship in the military is probably what leads many military children to a career of service to others. "Within the military community there is most definitely a legacy of service that helps to shape those of us lucky enough to grow up in this culture," Kahni said. "Men and women in uniform make huge sacrifices for this nation and fellow citizens. This selflessness is a characteristic that is naturally developed within many of their children."
Ward asked MCEC officials to continue their work on behalf of military children. "Continue your work one school at a time and before long these programs will be the cornerstone for ensuring the smooth transition of our students from school to school," the general said.
Kahni told MCEC officials that the strides they've made have benefited military children tremendously. She said agreements between local school districts and military communities have become standard and have allowed for easier transitions for innumerable students
The general encouraged the organization to continue work with Defense Department schools, individual states, and local communities. "Engage military leadership when you need their support," Ward said. "All of these community partners play a critical role in ensuring the academic success of our military children. And by working together, we can help children reach new heights."
Kahni added: "The military community has a history rich in mentorship and service. MCEC is a critical player in this history. Together, the military, family members, community partners, Defense Department and MCEC will continue the legacy, preparing generations to come for a future of serving the United States of America."