Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Jacksonville panel provides a military perspective on education

Reach NC Voices has been joining the myFutureNC Commission’s listening sessions across the state. On Wednesday, May 16, the session took us to Jacksonville to hear the military family perspective on education. Following the listening session, a panel of local education leaders shared their insights on the unique challenges military families face when it comes to school.

Panelists included: Helen Gross, principal at Swansboro Middle School; Beth Rubin, dean of adult and online education at Campbell University; Lisa Neusell, dean of extended education at Mt. Olive University; Bob Dickerson, executive vice president of Marine Federal Credit Union; and David Heatherly, president of Coastal Carolina Community College. Here’s what they had to say on barriers in education for both military parents and their children, including childcare, transition programs, and facing deployment:

“Our biggest crisis is student attendance among our military students. Some of these students have 20, 40, 60 absences . . . It’s understandable why they’re missing school. What do we expect moms to do when they’re here by themselves?”
-Helen Gross, principal, Swansboro Middle School, regarding lack of access to childcare

“One of the things that I am proud of is that we provide training to our faculty and staff about the needs of our military families. It’s important that we all be able to attend to the needs of military students, so we provide training across the board.”
-Lisa Neusell, dean of extended education, Mt. Olive University, regarding staff training to serve military students

“We serve nontraditional populations. Every kid who falls off someplace between K-12 to post-secondary becomes an adult who still needs that diploma, or that degree . . . Please don’t forget the adults who fell off 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago.”
-Beth Rubin, dean of adult and online education, Campbell University, regarding adult learners

“I would say students go through high anxiety when deployments occur.”
-Bob Dickerson, executive vice president, Marine Federal Credit Union, regarding families facing deployment

“Coastal is atypical. This is a very transient community. A lot of people come to us with the intention to leave sooner than later.”
-David Heatherly, president, Coastal Carolina Community College, regarding the need for transition programs

This event was also covered by The Daily News in Jacksonville. Check out their article here. If you are interested in keeping up with Reach NC Voices, sign up for our weekly newsletter here

Yasmin Bendaas

Yasmin Bendaas is a Science writer.  A North Carolina native, she received her master’s degree in Science & Medical Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Park Fellow. She received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology in 2013 from Wake Forest University, where she double-minored in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As an undergraduate student, Bendaas gained insight into public health when she interned at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, a statewide grantmaker focused on rural health, including access to primary care, diabetes, community-centered prevention, and mental health and substance abuse. 

As a journalist, Bendaas has been funded twice by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for fieldwork in Algeria — first to cover a disappearing indigenous tattoo tradition, and again to look at how climate change affects rural sheepherding practices.