George Mason University
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George Mason University

Tip Sheet: Mason helps Virginia schools prepare for military kids

April 8, 2016

Virginia has more active-duty military personnel than all but two states, so chances are good a Virginia school includes students of military families. George Mason University prepares teachers to better connect with and support those students.

“When we think about school readiness, we think about preparing children to enter schools. But how do we get our schools ready for our children?” said Mark Ginsberg, dean of Mason’s College of Education and Human Development. “This is a particular concern when we consider military children and their families.”

George Mason’s program called “Supporting Our Military-Connected Children in School Settings: Moving Them from Risk to Resilience” describes how aspects of military lifestyle can impact the social, emotional and educational needs of military-connected children. It includes videos from students and educators, which bring to life issues such as constant relocations and dealing with a parent who has endured physical trauma or PTSD. 

Suggestions to better connect with these students include setting up a buddy system for new students, gathering information about students from liaison officers at military bases, and ensuring students with special needs receive continuity of educational services. Listening to students and understanding their state of mind also is important.

“The stressors are significant, and feelings of loss, anxiety and lack of control can impact academic performance," program developer Jennifer Drake-Patrick said of military-connected students. "The key is to let children know they can do this and that you’re there to support them.”

Collectively, educators who are Mason alumni have a tremendous impact on the lives of children in the community, Ginsberg said.

“Here in Northern Virginia, where so many students are from military families, more than one in three teachers and at least half of our school leaders are Mason graduates,” he said.

If you need further assistance, contact Michele McDonald at 703-993-8781 or or Damian Cristodero at 703-993-9118 or

Mark Ginsberg, dean of Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, has a PhD in human development and family studies from Penn State University. He can be reached at 703-993-2004 or

Jennifer Drake-Patrick, assistant professor for literacy, is the academic program coordinator for Mason’s Literacy and Reading program and has a PhD in education. She can be reached at 703-993-2166 or


About George Mason

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 33,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.MM


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