Posted: August 4, 2023
Washington – The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC®) just held its most successful post-COVID Global Training Summit (GTS) July 24–26, 2023, in Washington, D.C., convening renowned military, education, and behavioral health leaders. The GTS is the foremost professional development opportunity for education and mental health professionals devoted to providing military-connected children with the best possible education opportunities.
The 2023 GTS theme, Looking Back, Reaching Forward, commemorates MCEC’s 25th anniversary. Founded in Harker Heights, Texas, in 1998, MCEC was a true coalition of military and education leaders from Fort Cavazos (then Fort Hood) and the Killeen Independent School District.
From there, MCEC has built an ongoing coalition of care from other school districts and U.S. military installations around the world. Generating continuous momentum during its 25 years, MCEC has answered the changing needs of military-connected children and their families – who themselves form a vital support system for military service members.
Dr. Becky Porter, MCEC President and CEO shared, “the importance of our students’ mental health and well-being cannot be overstated. The Summit engaged our students and the professionals who support them by focusing on connectedness as the underpinning of not only academic, but overall, success.”
The 2023 GTS focused on the nation’s mental health crisis for both children and adults, and the impact the crisis has on the well-being and academic performance of military kids. The Summit’s programming navigated the nuances of caregiving, connectedness, belonging, resilience, mental wellness, dealing with trauma, and mental health challenges. Attendees learned strategies to foster healthy behaviors and to provide growth skills, support, and opportunities.
Key presenters at the MCEC’s 2023 GTS included:
The 2023 GTS included an onsite Summit, followed by an online event for those unable to attend in person. The onsite activities drew nearly 600 people from 26 U.S. states plus Armed Forces Europe and Armed Forces Pacific, with some travelers making the journey from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, and Germany. An additional 300+ registered for GTS virtual training sessions online.
In addition to its esteemed featured speakers, the Global Training Summit included sessions with leading experts in education, health, social and emotional well-being, and appearances by military-connected children relating their own experiences.
Sessions covered a broad scope of topics and issues, including school safety, mental health, and managing the lingering educational and social aftereffects of COVID-era campus closures. Many GTS presenters also recorded episodes for the MCEC Podcast during the Summit. MCEC Podcast episodes covering a wide variety of topics are available free of charge via the Apple Podcast Store, Amazon Music, Google Play, and other popular platforms.
First Lady Jill Biden, Ed.D, a prominent champion for MCEC’s cause, addressed the audience in a recorded video to share encouragement and support at the Summit’s opening session.
“For 25 years, (MCEC) has fought tirelessly for this community, and you’ve made such a difference in so many children’s lives, but we know that we still have further to go. It’s going to take all of us, sharing our best ideas and practices to make sure that our military kids are supported. To the military kids joining us… You’re the future of this country, and you will never be in this alone. The President and I are committed to honoring, supporting and standing with you, today and for all the years to come. Happy 25th Birthday, MCEC,” said Dr. Biden.
Established in 2019 by the MCEC Science Advisory Board, the intent of this award is to recognize researchers, clinicians and practitioners for significant contributions to science and the public's understanding of military-connected youth.
The 2023 recipient of the Military Children’s Dr. Mary M. Keller Award for Distinguished Contributions to Science is Senator Elizabeth Dole.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation has both brought great visibility to children’s roles as caregivers through their Hidden Helpers initiative, as well as conducted significant research to guide their efforts. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation has applied the results of their work to influence policies, such as VA support for caregivers, and practices, such as work in local communities through their fellows’ program. Senator Elizabeth Dole, through her foundation, exemplifies how to use science and data to inform issues and solutions, and, in this case, in service of military-connected children.
Accepting the award on behalf of Senator Dole was Steve Schwab, the CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
Several MCEC Student to Student (S2S) groups representing schools across the U.S. attended GTS as finalists of MCEC’s annual competition for S2S Teams of the Year. S2S, one of MCEC’s flagship initiatives, is a student-led, faculty-advised program in which students get involved to welcome incoming military-connected students to their new campus and community. This helps the new students to become acquainted and make connections with other students.
MCEC awards S2S Teams of the Year for elementary, middle, and high school groups, along with an overall award for Elite Team of the Year. The 2023 S2S Teams of the year are:
Attending the Summit was a meaningful reward for all the students. Said Laura Bruce, parent of a student from Carroll High School in Ozark, Alabama: “Thank you for the amazing opportunity that was afforded to my son and the other students. The newly formed relationships, experiences and teachings will be with them (and me) for a lifetime."
Lt. Gen. H. G. “Pete” Taylor (retired) was one of the founders of MCEC – and a military parent, too. The award named in his honor recognizes successful partnerships and projects that reflect his belief that “goodness starts at the local level.” MCEC presents awards to deserving schools, installations, and individual program achievements at GTS. The 2023 winning initiatives and their partner groups are:
A favorite tradition from past MCEC events returned as the Summit displayed a gallery of student artworks from MCEC’s 2023 Call for the Arts competition. Students submitted entries in visual arts, poetry, writing, and performance arts inspired by their experiences as military-connected youth. Eight of this year’s award winners were in attendance at the Summit, including Spotlight Award Winner (and seventh-grader) Lucy K. of Horace O'Bryant Middle School at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., who took the stage to perform her original song, #LifeOfAMilitaryKid.
The Call for the Arts competition is well-known in the U.S. military and government circles. The entries are quite moving for the perspectives they share, and have been displayed at The White House, the Vice President’s residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the U.S. Department of Education headquarters.
The MCEC Global Training Summit returns to Washington, DC next summer from July 29-31, 2024.
USAA, College Board, BAE Systems, The Defense Credit Union Council, Wounded Warrior Project, Textron, Kellogg’s, James Avery Charitable Giving, General Dynamics, The Association Of Military Banks Of America, Tutor.Com, Litefighter, ADS, Daughters Of The American Revolution, Kale’o, Barry Robinson Center, and Elk Promotions.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
The Barry Robinson Center, eCybermission, Kidspeace, Gilman ISP, Youth for Tomorrow, Kendra Scott, R. Riveter, AEOP, Tutor.Com, and Goshen Education Consulting Inc.
Visit www.MilitaryChild.org for more about MCEC.
The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) is a 501(c)(3) global, nonprofit organization devoted to the well-being of America’s approximately four million military-connected children, specifically in the areas of academic opportunity and excellence, school transition support, and developmental needs. MCECS’s goal is to ensure that every military-connected child grows and thrives through both the good and the challenging times to become college-, workforce- and life-ready.
Karen Kirk, Military Child Education Coalition
Karen.Kirk@MilitaryChild.org or (254) 953-1923 x 1123