Summit highlights education advances in 2023

Published 8:11 am Saturday, March 2, 2024

By Chuck Cannon | Public Affairs Office

The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Johnson recently hosted its annual education summit with local, state and Department of the Army stakeholders at the Fort Johnson Warrior Center.

Representatives from the Vernon and Beauregard school boards, as well as partners in education from Louisiana State University of Alexandria, attended the summit. Additionally, presenters from STARBASE Warrior, Region 5 and 6 STEM centers, Fort Johnson Child and Youth Services, Fort Johnson Exceptional Family Member Program, Fort Johnson Employment Readiness, Fort Johnson Transition Assistance Program and Fort Johnson Transition, Assistance and Resources Team, gave updates on their programs.

Brig. Gen. David W. Gardner, JRTC and Fort Johnson commanding general, provided opening remarks for the summit about strides made in 2023 to improve quality of education in Vernon and Beauregard parishes. He thanked those in attendance and area representatives for working on behalf of Fort Johnson’s children and spouses.

“We care about education … Command Sergeant Major (David) Hanson and I both have children in the system,” Gardner said. “I’m excited about today and look forward to the information from the different presenters.”

Advances made in education in Vernon and Beauregard parishes during 2023 include expanded career tech opportunities, STARBASE curriculum development and approval, campus expansion and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) infrastructure, special education working group and partnership workshops, Louisiana Board of Regents STEM Center participation, expanded volunteer opportunities and outreach, improvements to out-of-state teacher certification legislation, Louisiana Department of Education Purple Star School recognition and Partners-in-Education expansion.

Following Gardner’s remarks, certificates were presented to principals of the year, students of the year, and support personnel of the year.

Key topics covered during the summit included student opportunities to include expanded course offerings, and advances in STARBASE Warrior and STEAM; challenges facing schools and parents, to include a shortage of qualified teachers and how Fort Johnson is working with the school systems to overcome those challenges; and a legislative update.

Superintendents from Vernon (James Williams) and Beauregard (Larry Hollie) schools gave updates on their systems and improvements made for students. Logan Morris, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, gave a legislative update.

Tiffany Koch, Fort Johnson school liaison officer, said the summit is important to continue relationships between Fort Johnson, area school systems, legislators and parents of students.

“It allows an opportunity for both school districts, our elected officials and stakeholders to gather together and hear about the good things that have happened during the past year, as well as challenges looking ahead,” Koch said. “It’s where we celebrate our success and areas we’re still working on. It gives us a forum to celebrate what we’ve done, but also let everyone know we’re still working.”