Veterans educate teachers

The Liberty University Office of Military Affairs (OMA) hosted a discussion panel for education students in an effort to raise awareness about the sacrifice of active duty families Tuesday, Nov. 5

Students had the opportunity to hear directly from military representatives, veterans and dependents about the need for military family awareness in the school system.

Meghan Ellis, associate director for the OMA, asked the panel members questions about their experiences with military life and addressed issues that future educators may deal with in their classrooms.

Ellis said she was raised as a military child, and her spouse is in the Army. According to Ellis, it is important that teachers address the specific needs of military parents and their children.

“My passion is to provide support to raise awareness for our military population,” Ellis said.

According to Ellis, a 2011 study shows that there are more than 2.2 million active-duty military personnel including the Reserves and National Guard. This affects more than 1.9 children of military families.

The panel members recommend future educators take advantage of the technology that is available to the current culture.

“In 2006 and 2007, I missed two Halloweens in a row, Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Capt. Bystrek, company commander at U.S. Army Recruiting Company, said. “I missed my son’s birth.

Stuff like that is important to the servicemen and to the child back at home. Most teachers these days have their own classroom website. (Teachers) make the website available to important things like concerts or plays or whatever.”

Bystrek said he recommends future teachers record parent-teacher conferences, and email the conference to the deployed spouse. He also said the number one concern for military children affected by moving is making and keeping friends. This further emphasizes the need for teachers to be informed about dealing with military families.

Dr. Keith Anderson, dean of students, chief conduct officer and director for a counseling and spiritual support office at Liberty, challenged students to imagine the impact on military families by keeping both parents connected to their child. This type of influence has the ability to save marriages.

“One thing that I would tell future educators is never underestimate the power of your students,” Anderson said. “If you challenge them, they can rise to the occasion. You have to prepare them. You have to support them. I think the benefit of the military family is their ability to organically adapt to different places and people.”

Following the panel, education students got the chance to learn more by asking questions from its members.

The OMA holds events throughout the year. For more information, call (434) 592-5990 or email

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