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Multiple-Prong Approach for Transient Students and Families

Wheeler Middle SchoolMajor Sheldon Wheeler Middle School, (Wahiawa, HI). Wheeler Middle School (WMS) is located on the Wheeler Army Airfield on the island of Oahu. The airfield is home to the Hawaii Air and Army National Guards and the Army’s 25th Infantry Divisions’ Combat Aviation Brigade. WMS students, families, and teachers are highly transient. Each year, over 200 students enroll in or exit WMS and only 30% of students will remain all three years at WMS (total enrollment over 700).

As a military-impacted school, WMS has created a variety of programs and opportunities to strengthen students’ sense of belonging and connection to the Hawaiian culture. For example, to foster strong relationships between students and teachers, every student is placed in a smaller learning community led by a two-teacher team for core subject areas. The two-teacher teams promote high levels of teacher accountability and investment in individual students. The small number of students in each team means every team can operate like a family or “ohana.” The feeling of being a part of an ohana translates into students feeling connected to their teachers, peers, and school community.

In addition, WMS worked tirelessly with military partners to design behavioral, social, and emotional supports for students and their families. For example, WMS has a full-time Military and Family Life Consultant (MFLC). The MFLC provides short-term, non-clinical counseling support for a range of issues, including crisis intervention, stress management, and other individual and family challenges.

Given that WMS educators and staff believe they have the responsibility and power to make differences in the lives of all students, they have proven to successfully support learners of all abilities, experiences, and backgrounds.