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Supporting Military-Connected Students: An Educator's Story

In the resource video, “It’s Not Just Another Move,” the Military Child Education Coalition notes that curriculum variances, the lack of flexible credit transfers and a dearth of supporting programs and counselors are just a few of the challenges military-connected students face when the adults in their lives receive new assignments across the country.

Demetreia Adderley lived that experience. During her father’s 25-year Naval career, Adderley and her three siblings attended at least eight schools between Kindergarten and the 12th-grade. Now an elementary school teacher in Dekalb County, GA, Adderley says her experiences as a military-connected student influence her work as an advocate for academic and emotional support for students, especially military-connected and those who are transient for other reasons. 

An ordeal during the 1st-grade sticks in Adderley’s mind.

“My mom, who was a stay-at-home-mother at the time, would teach us how to write our names, our letters, our colors - you know, those basic pre-K things,” she recounts. “When our family transferred to California, my mom learned I had to start school early, due to state law. Yet, there were some things on the test that I didn’t know. So, they put me in remedial classes and labeled my file as such.”

After moving from California, her mother requested that the new school retest Adderley. As a result, the remedial stamp was removed from her school files. However, Adderley stills feels the impact of that experience.“I understand what it’s like, due to no fault of your own, to be perceived to have a [learning] gap due to differences between state law around education, curriculum and teaching styles,” Adderley says.
NMSI and other organizations like the Military Child Education Coalition recognize the impacts military-related moves have on entire families. NMSI’s Military Families Mission works to address the impact for students by expanding the College Board's proven Advanced Placement® program to provide a consistent academic experience for students, no matter where service calls their families. NMSI also provides study resources and academic coaches for all students at schools in the Military Families Mission program.

Adderley says military-connected students also need social and emotional support.
“Because of my dad’s transfers every two to three years, I was always the new kid making new friends in school – which was tough at the time. And if the school wasn’t a military school, then teachers may not know that my father was in the military. There are many times I wished my teachers would’ve seen my withdrawnness and asked more questions. It’s why I try to pay closer attention to my own students.”

Along with teaching, Adderley is a doctoral candidate at Walden University with a focus on early childhood education.