Waynesville School District was part of a national study that took a look at the best ways to educate military connected students.

The Lexington Institute of Washington, D.C., released its findings about educating military-connected students in the nation – including those at Waynesville R-VI – at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City this morning on Missouri Military Appreciation Day.

“Today, Waynesville R-VI became one of the leading voices in the national conversation about how to best educate military-connected students,” said Dr. Brian Henry, superintendent of Waynesville Schools. “Whenever you participate in a study of this magnitude and on a national scale, you subject yourself to criticism, but while we have areas we need to improve, the overwhelming response was positive about our district.” 

The study, “Better Serving Those Who Serve:  Improving the Educational Opportunities of Military-Connected Students,” was authored by Doug Mesecar and Don Soifer of the Lexington Institute with the support of the Collaborative for Student Success.

The report’s timing is critical because for the first time, every state will be publicly tracking the academic progress of military connected students. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015, requires states to report on military connected students to better meet these students’ needs.

“The importance of educating kindergarten through 12th grade students cannot be overstated,” Henry said. “This report solidifies what I have been saying all along – we must have a successful school district to make our community attractive to military leaders so they will choose to locate military missions at Fort Leonard Wood.”

In the report, Waynesville R-VI and Fort Leonard Wood leaders are recognized for developing effective relationships that extend beyond official roles. The report states, “Collaboration between Fort Leonard Wood and Waynesville School District leaders is robust and attentive – taking the form of a friendly conversation following a church service leading to a phone call about how a particular child is doing. This focus on individual children also characterizes the district’s approach to education.”

The report reviewed the impact multiple moves have on students, inconsistent educational opportunities, Interstate Compacts, different educational requirements for graduation, the differences in rigor and relevance from state-to-state and the number of students who are proficient or advanced in Grade 4 ELA and Grade 8 Math compared to national norms. 

In its findings, the Lexington Institute noted the number of highly qualified teachers who teach core courses at Waynesville and the use of differentiated instruction.

Saralice Campbell, a fifth grade teacher at Wood Elementary, who herself has been a soldier, and is a military spouse and parent was featured in the report. Beyond setting SMART goals, Campbell works with parents so they can help their child develop content mastery.

“Regardless of circumstances, I still have to do my best to get my students ready – not ready for fifth grade, but ready for college, and for life,” Campbell said.

Presenters and educators present for the Missouri House Hearing included Soifer; Jim Cowen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success of Washington, D.C.; Marcus Lingenfelter, senior vice president of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) of Washington, D.C.; Dr. Margie Vandaeven, Missouri’s Commissioner of Education; Dr. Brian Henry, superintendent of Waynesville R-VI Schools; Dr. Jerrod Wheeler, superintendent of Knob Noster R-VIII Schools; and Dr. Scott Patrick, superintendent of Warrensburg Schools.