Over the past year, teacher consultants of the Oklahoma State University Writing Project and affiliate members of the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research provided and developed educational resources for military-connected families.
The team purchased and donated a large collection of children’s and young adult books to the Mary L. Williams Education and Teaching Library (ETL) in the OSU College of Education, Health and Aviation. The ETL works closely with campus and community partners to offer research assistance and serve as a state-wide educational resource for teachers and administrators. Books were selected from a list provided by Kansas State University’s College of Education Military-Connected Learner Initiative.
“Educators who work with military-connected families should have resources available to support their work,” said Dr. Pamela Unruh Brown, OSU Writing Project co-director.
According to the Military Child Education Coalition, all branches of U.S. military have experienced the largest sustained deployment of servicemen and women in the history of the all-volunteer force. As these servicemen and women transfer from installation to installation, military-connected students often change schools six to nine times prior to high school graduation. They can also be required to transfer between schools three times more frequently than civilian families.
Dr. Shelbie Witte, OSU Writing Project site director and the Chuck and Kim Watson Endowed Chair in Education/professor of English education and adolescent literacy, is a military spouse and has a special connection to this work.
“As a middle school English teacher at Fort Riley Middle School, our school experienced firsthand how deployments during war times impact the lives of families,” said Witte. “Many of our middle school students were experiencing their third or fourth deployments of their mom and dad and sometimes both, making life at home more challenging and in turn, making school and their success in it even more challenging.”
In addition to donating a large collection of books, Brown, Witte and team developed a list of web-based resources for teachers who want to help their students understand more about military life and who want to be better resources for military-connected children.
“Part of our land-grant mission at Oklahoma State University is to help our community partners find and have access to the resources they need,” said Dr. Robin Fuxa, director of professional education at OSU.
Area educators are invited to check out the military-connected materials from the ELC in Willard Hall on the OSU-Stillwater campus by bringing their school ID and driver’s license. They will receive a community library card, enabling them to checkout resources for up to two weeks. Additional web-based resources can be accessed online.
Oklahoma State continues to show its support for military related programs and initiatives, including welcoming ‘The Wall That Heals’ tour to campus April 18-21. The exhibit includes a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a mobile education center.
Not only does this visit allow opportunities for the community to tangibly engage with the past sacrifices of servicemen and women, but it also gives the public an opportunity to better understand the impact of military life on young people. The OSU Writing Project is especially excited for this event in light of its recent work in the areas of military-connected students.
"As we prepare for the visit of 'The Wall that Heals' tour, it's important for us to consider what we can learn from the past in how we work with the military-connected students of today," said Jayne Ann Williamson, team member and lecturer for the School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences.