By Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado Springs offers many lifestyle and volunteer opportunities. For families moving here with children, the task of finding a new school can be a daunting one.
While the internet provides seemingly endless sources of information, many parents rely on input from friends and family to decide on the perfect school. Making the decision a little different than most states is the Colorado Public Schools of Choice law, giving parents the option to enroll their child in any school they choose, including neighborhood and charter schools.
To help alleviate the transition for parents and families, the Air Force developed a school liaison officer position at every installation in October 2011.
Stan Cindrity, 21st Force Support Squadron school liaison officer here, is devoted to smoothing this transition for military members and their families. His goal is to reach out to the community, form partnerships, increase volunteerism, and help in any way possible with local schools. Cindrity also develops relationships with area schools by matching base volunteers with schools in need of volunteers.
“As we know, education is one of the major quality of life concerns for families who are moving,” said Cindrity. “Colorado is unique; it allows parents to move their children into just about any program if they (programs) can accommodate. It truly requires a lot of thought, including transportation, family make-up and quality of schools.”
Cindrity can help any member that is active-duty, Reserve, Guard or DOD civilian in the local area with placement into a school. His primary role assisting with family transition includes two main objectives: placing the member’s child in school and transferring the child’s records to the new school.
Cindrity said he can compare schools by student achievement, location and transportation to give parents the tools to make an informed decision.
However, a serious concern for parents is transferring credits from one state to another as some states have different graduation requirements, said Cindrity.
His main tool to help families with this concern is the Military Interstate Compact, legislation to create continuity and reciprocity between states for school age children moving to a different state. According to Cindrity, he can rely on this document and a good working relationship with other school liaisons and the schools directly to expedite the process.
“Not having that stress load on where to send a child is very important,” said Cindrity. “It helps transitioning parents focus on the mission.”
A good way to transition to a new school could involve volunteering at the school.
Cindrity said it is very important to smooth transitions for military families, but another portion of his job is improving partnership in the local community, mainly through coordinating volunteer efforts at local schools.
Many local military affiliated organizations and active-duty members come to Cindrity to ask for volunteer opportunities such as judging science fairs and after-school tutoring.
While Cindrity works with all local districts to aid parents with their children’s transition to area schools, his goal is to enter formal partnerships with District 11 schools, the district serving Peterson AFB.
Cindrity already has one formal partnership with the Rocky Mountain Company Grade Officers Council and Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy, which began in October 2013. The Rocky Mountain CGOC participates in the Dads of Great Students program and helps with science, technology, engineering and math initiatives at the school.
The group has participated in aviation themed days helping children launch hot air balloons and volunteered more than 100 hours from October through December, said Cindrity.
Cindrity said he has interest from squadrons and professional organizations to partner with local schools, but he has more volunteers than he can place. He said he is working on finding more schools for all the volunteers.
“Ultimately, this program is good for the schools and for our Airmen,” said Cindrity. “Our students can give back to our Airmen quite a bit, and at the same time our military members bring adult role models and mentors to our schools and build connections with a different perspective than many children have seen.”
If we are going to initiate some sort of agreement, we need buy-in from both organizations to truly make a difference, he said.
According to Bob Null, a director of Colorado Springs D-11 Board of Education, military members bring a unique presence to the schools.
“Military members bring a world view, language skills, teaching skills, respect and discipline: and they bring it in quantity,” said Null. “What an asset (this could be) and it’s absolutely free for the schools.”
While volunteering is at the heart of many service members’ value system, one of the first steps for any service member with a family transitioning to Colorado Springs should be to get connected with Cindrity’s office to get more school information. While there, members may also find some new volunteer opportunities.