The snowy day didn’t stop the show for Purple Day! and the MIC3 summit at Malmstrom Air Force Base on April 12. Col. Daniel Voorhies, vice commander of the 341st Missile Wing, briefed base visitors on some facts about Malmstrom, spoke about MIC3, and explained some of the challenges parents face while basically having two jobs: being a relative and an airman/wife.
MIC3, also known as the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, was established in 2015. It has been able to provide consistency in education and support for children across the country to enable better support when children change schools due to assignments parents may receive. Although not comprehensive, the MIC3 addressed key issues such as eligibility, enrollment, placement, and graduation for children.
“MIC3 is interested in ideas that can help military families make the transition. So right now, in conjunction with Great Falls Public Schools, we have a series of programs that we’re looking to launch. One of them is a pilot pre-K transition program that will begin this next school year,” said Col. Christopher Karns, commander of the 341st Mission Support Group.
Office of Public Instruction Superintendent Elsie Arntzen traveled to the state capitol to participate in the MIC3 Education Summit and awarded Purple Star schools and champions. A Purple Star school should be a liaison between the MIC3 commission as well as other schools and the community, provide professional development for personnel, opportunities to learn about the military and be connected, and organize at least Event.
The Purple Star School winners were Great Falls Central Catholic High School, Holy Spirit Catholic School and Morningside Elementary School. The Purple Star Champion winners were Kim Ray (Principal of Morningside Elementary) and Joe Ferda (Counsellor at Great Falls High School) for focusing on student education, health, safety and welfare.
“The most important thing is recognizing that there is support across our state for military children and families,” Arntzen said.
Arntzen wants to create a “legacy” starting with the Purple Star Champion winners to move like-minded people forward into a larger field, she announced at the awards show.
“It’s a choice of families to serve in our military, but sometimes our kids don’t have that choice, and I think that’s what we’re honoring right now,” Arntzen said. “Thank you for doing your math and reading your homework, but also thank you for being part of a great family serving our great state and our national guard, as well as serving our great nation in all of our military branches.
Karns introduced the Five for Thrive, whose goal is to address the challenges of the initiative, promote community partnerships and improve the quality of life for military families. Five for Thrive initiatives include childcare, education, housing, spousal employment and health care. As Karns said at the summit, these are “directly linked to the readiness, resilience and retention of military families.”
Karns told the Great Falls Tribune that families have multiple resources. Reception facilities for children are present on the installation but are limited. One area in which to pursue a partnership with education is the Child Development Center, where students could work and receive school credits that will hopefully kick off this next school year. Other internships and parallel programs should be extended to other areas of interest beyond JROTC.
“We try to do new and different things, from the pre-K transitional kindergarten program to partnering with high schools and universities for aspects of child development in terms of links to early childhood development” , Karns said.
Great Falls Public School Superintendent Tom Moore shared some facts about the district and GFPS’s offerings to military children and families.
The main schools that feed from the base are Loy Primary, North Middle Primary and CM Russell Primary.
Moore was very transparent when reporting on supporting military families. The chronic absenteeism rate among military children was 6.5 times lower than the general student population, military-related children in K-8 in 2021 scored higher, and GFPS seniors associated with the military had an on-track graduation rate (OTGR) of 95% in the last 3 out of 5 years. Superintendent Moore wants to improve the scores and percentages of all students, whether they are military-related or not.
The Education Summit also gave a presentation, classes, resources, prizes and tour, and answered questions. Various school and Air Force departments explained how many moving parts are included to help create the stability and resources needed for children, parents and families due to schedules, work assignments and removals, mental health, education, etc.
Lisa Sapp, Malmstrom AFB School Liaison, is a point of contact and one of the resources parents can access regarding child education.
“So part of my job is to send a welcome email to our incoming families, and I also send a farewell email to our departing families and put them in touch with their school liaison at school. other base. I give a brief overview of our area. I have a list of school systems. I try to make sure that the families who come have everything they need to succeed. I have a great relationship with all the school systems here, our private schools and our public schools.