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The Escambia County School District has been awarded a five year, $1.5 million dollar grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Partnership, officials announced Monday.

The grant will focus on improving the social emotional well-being of transitioning military-connected students in the district. Project “Smooth Sailing” is designed to increase the level of social emotional support for military dependent students at five targeted schools that have a high percentage of military connected student enrollment, including Blue Angels Elementary, Hellen Caro Elementary, Pleasant Grove Elementary, Jim C. Bailey Middle and Escambia High School. Officials said the five schools will institute school-wide programs that “create a culture that is supportive for all its students while recognizing and working to minimize the unique stressors of its military-connected students as they transition into or out of the district as well as from grade level to grade level.”

The three-prong approach of “Smooth Sailing” at the schools will include expanded parent engagement programs to provide families with tools and strategies to extend the social emotional support of their children beyond the classroom; positive behavior program support and suicide prevention training at all schools to decrease behavior referrals and provide quick response to emotional needs; and summer leadership-building and personal interest camps to help students build social bonds and the emotional strength to deal effectively with change and stress. While the grant targets our military connected students, all students in these five schools will benefit, officials said.

Extensive professional development programs over the course of the five-year grant will ensure that teachers and administrators in the selected schools are well-versed in strategies that will best meet the goal of the grant in supporting their students’ social emotional wellbeing, officials said.

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