School liaison links military families, community educators

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alessandra N. Hurley
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Airmen and local academic community members have a new resource to help solve concerns or questions regarding military children.

School liaison officers are being hired across the Air Force, and Chad Canaan recently filled the position here at Ellsworth. He works in the Airman and Family Readiness Center, is ready to assist military families with their school-related concerns, as well as local school system employees with their military-related concerns.

Mr. Canaan's primary duties, like those of school liaison officers at U.S. Air Force locations nation-wide, are to provide assistance to Airmen with school-aged children enrolled in local civilian school systems and their teachers. Mr. Canaan also offers guidance to all concerned parties on how to best assist military children to help them reach their academic goals.

"I do this job because of the unique challenges confronting military children," he said. "On average, a military child will move six to nine times during their school years. They also face the possibility of their military parent being deployed for months at a time. These factors can affect student achievement. I'm excited to be able to work with the military parents, school districts and wing leadership to help our children have smooth school transitions when they PCS and provide a positive educational experience while they're here at Ellsworth."

Since he took the position in December 2010, Mr. Canaan has immediately devoted himself to improving the lives of military students.

"As the school liaison officer, I am able to offer military families assistance with the educational needs of their children, by providing them with information on local school districts, home schooling, special needs education and financial aid for college," he said.

Mr. Canaan can also make referrals for military families to other school liaison officers whenever a family moves to another base. Mr. Canaan strives to help children of all ages meet educational needs and deal with the pressures of being in a military family.

"I assist military families with questions or issues concerning kindergarten through 12th-grade students as they transition to a new school, by identifying barriers to academic success, developing solutions and providing parents the tools they need to overcome educational obstacles," he added.

As the SLO, Mr. Canaan not only helps military children conquer the unique challenges they face, but also helps to develop partnerships with each of the local school districts that serve military students.

"Mr. Canaan's services extend to all local school systems, providing teachers and school employees with an avenue to get help for a military dependent," said Col. Steven Hiss, 28th Bomb Wing Vice Commander. "The school liaison officer is a go-between for our Airmen and school employees. It's a two-way street; Mr. Canaan focuses on addressing the concerns of both parties with regard to Air Force dependents."

Mr. Canaan is excited about his new role in the Ellsworth community, and is glad to be available to help both Air Force families and school employees provide military children the best possible care and education that best meets their needs.