MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
In mid-June the Combat Center welcomed Tina Paulson as its school liaison in an effort to provide necessary support to both families and the local school district to problem solve any issues that may arise and impact the education of the children living in the local area.
The position works in conjunction with the Combat Center’s command staff, Marine Corps Community Services’ Marine and Family Division, and the local community schools to address educational issues involving military children.
Dave Price, director of student services at Morongo Unified School District, said Brig. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, Combat Center commanding general; Col. Robert J. Abblitt, Combat Center chief of staff, and former Combat Center commanding general, Brig. Gen. M.G. Spiese, worked hard to improve communications with the district, and the MUSD is excited about having a direct point-of-contact at the Combat Center.
“The district was very pleased to hear that the Combat Center hired a school liaison,” said Price. “The school liaison will be able to assist Marine families moving into the area with school issues and placement problems.”
Price, a native of San Bernardino, Calif., said he has found Paulson understanding, knowledgeable, capable of relating to families on base, and willing to work hard to achieve what is in the best interest of military families.
“Ms. Paulson brings experience in every aspect of the position,” said Price. “She is a trained classroom teacher, military spouse, and military child.”
Tom Baumgarten, assistant superintendent of instructional services at the MUSD said he also believes Paulson’s experience as an educator and military spouse gives her unique insight to both organizations.
“Ms. Paulson will be a key partner in our growing partnership to providing the highest quality education for our students,” said Baumgarten. “We also hope to utilize Ms. Paulson to share her understanding of military culture and to assist new families as they acclimate to the Morongo Basin.”
Paulson, whose professional education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English from Washington State University and a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Phoenix, confirmed that her drive to help military children comes from her own experiences as a military child and a want to minimize the unknowns.
“I remember how hard it was to go to a new school every couple of years,” said Paulson who came to the Combat Center from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego with her husband Capt. Todd Paulson, company commander, Motor Transportion Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 7.
Paulson, who has six years of classroom teaching experience, said as the school liaison she will work with MUSD in order to help military families as they transition into and out of the Combat Center’s education community.
“The mission is to be a bridge between the military community and the school district,” said Paulson, a native of Tucson, Ariz. “We don’t want it to be an unpleasant experience for their children to go to school here,”
Baumgarten shares Paulson’s belief and believes the school liaison provides the support to both families and the district to problem solve any issues which may arise which impact the education of children living in the local area.
“We also strive to utilize Ms. Paulson as a bridge to foster a strong partnership between Marine Corps families and our schools,” said Baumgarten. “The school district would also like to utilize Ms. Paulson to assist our school staff in understanding the unique needs of our military families that often include issues involving coping with the stress of deployment.”
The Corps’ liaison program is based on the Army’s model, which has existed for an estimated ten years, but only Marine Corps installations in Japan had acting liaisons onboard until this year, said Paulson.
During the 2008 Exceptional Family Member Program Functionality Assessment by Headquarters Marine Corps, it was determined that the education and welfare of school age children is a quality of life issue.
This is in response to Marine Corps wide challenges experienced with reciprocity and quality of education location to location.
To assist parents and commanders in interacting with local schools and in responding to transition and academic issues which are unique to the to the military lifestyle, HQMC recommended that a school liaison position be provided as appropriate at each Marine Corps installation.
The presence of Paulson, at the Combat Center has already produced results.
Price said such programs as the Teacher2Teacher Workshop and Drug Abuse Resistance Education at the elementary level are in full implementation, while Advanced Placement courses at high schools, Student On-line Resources, and Advancement Via Individual Determination support are other programs in various stages of training or discussion.
“The greatest achievement has been the open communication between the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and the Morongo Unified School District,” said Price.
For additional information about the school liaison or to voice comments, questions or concerns, please contact Paulson at 830-1574 or visit the school liaison Web site at https://www.29palms.usmc.mil/visit/schoolliaison/