Counselor brings in grant

Published 10:22 pm Saturday, October 17, 2009

There is a unique set of challenges for students of military families.

On top of balancing the workload of school assignments, extracurricular activities and community service projects, they also have to deal with the realities of deployments, war and constant relocation.

In Hampton Roads, the school systems are filled with many military families thanks to the Norfolk Naval Base as well as other military facilities in the area.

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Because of this, Suffolk schools – like many others – have a large breakdown of military families.

Northern Shores Elementary School, specifically, has an especially large portion of its student population coming from military backgrounds.

“We have a lot of children with parents or caretakers in the military,” said Maria Eiring, a guidance counselor at Northern Shores. “So with us continuing to have this many families the military, I feel it’s an important part of my role as a counselor to have the best resources available.”

In order to attain those resources, Eiring submitted a grant request to the Joint Military Services School Liaison Committee, which reviews requests from the 12 school districts in Hampton Roads.

Eiring’s request was selected.

According to a press release from Suffolk Public Schools, the selection panel “was very impressed with Eiring’s initiatives geared toward addressing the needs of military children in her school.”

The school was granted $500 to purchase books and DVD’s on deployment, patriotism, military related holidays, and transition materials as well as ice cream social items to recognize and support the students experiencing deployment this school year.

While the new resources will help with the military families, Eiring said they will also serve a larger purpose.

“I wanted to have resources for students and the staff and the families,” Eiring said. “Whether its patriotic materials or moving and deployment materials, or reunion information and material, that’s going to be helpful for parents and kids. In general, though, it’s a good thing to work in patriotism with school spirit. It should be a part of what the children are learning in their every day social studies and so forth. It’s a lot good to be educating everybody and reaching out globally too.”

The materials purchased from the grant will go to the school’s “lending library” for parents and community members.

“It was very exciting (to win),” Eiring said. “It’s doing a lot of good.”