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Superintendent talks development in military community

19 Sep 2013 | Lance Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

The Combat Center offers elementary-level education at Condor Elementary School. However, while the Combat Center does not educate at the middle or high school levels, other schools within the Morongo Unified School District are providing children with that opportunity outside the gates.

Recently, Dr. Cecelia English, superintendent, Morongo USD, visited the Combat Center in an effort to learn about the Marines, sailors and their families aboard the installation.

“We’ve discussed several ways to help our school system grow,” English said. “One of those ways is getting closer to the military community. We want to find out what parents are looking for in a school that will teach their children.”

Morongo USD is responsible for 16 different schools throughout areas that include Twentynine Palms, Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree.

The district aims to establish a relationship with military families to create the best possible learning environments for their children.

“I’m meeting with service members, parents, members of the community, to discover what the vision of an ideal school should be,” English said. “It won’t be my vision, but our vision.”

“It is enlightening to see the growth and training of this base,” Tom Baumgarten, assistant superintendent of instructional services, Morongo USD. “This community and their involvement with our schools is valuable.”

Incentives for learning and higher education can already be found within several schools in the Morongo Basin.

“At Twentynine Palms HS and Yucca Valley HS, we offer advanced placement classes online,” English said. “Even if there aren’t enough students to fill a classroom, students can still opt to undergo the course.”

According to English, the school district has seen high levels of academic growth recently.

“This school district led the entire San Bernardino County in academic scores,” English said. “Four out of the ten top schools in the county were ours. We have a lot of dedicated staff in this district.”

With the school district carving a path for continued success, English hopes to have parents on board to be a part of it.

“I know that part of what a parent is interested in when moving to a new area is the surrounding schools available for their children,” English said.

Communication between parents and teachers within the district can make way to schools tailored to meeting the academic and developmental needs for successful children.

“The greatest way the families can get to know our schools is by participating,” Baumgarten said. “Parent-teacher organizations, volunteering and serving on school councils are the best ways to continue our strong partnership.”

For more information about schools in the Morongo Unified School District, contact Thomas Cruz, School Liaison, Marine and Family Services, or visit

Other useful websites:

Worldwide USMC School Liaison Director:

Dodea-Department of Defense Education Activity;

USMC Exceptional Family Member Program

Military Child Education Coalition

Military Youth on the Move:

Military Impacted School Association:

Military One Source:

Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission

U.S. Department of Education-Impact Aid Programs

Thomas Cruz

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms