Lakewood schools to get Department of Defense funds

Students who attend Lakewood schools that have a high number of kids from military families will soon receive additional support in the classroom, thanks to a grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity fund.

The Clover Park School District, which enrolls students from nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord, will receive money totaling $1.5 million over five years, beginning Sept. 1.

The grant will fund teacher training and materials for two programs in 12 of the district’s 16 elementary schools. One program focuses on positive behavior reinforcement; the other emphasizes early and ongoing research-based intervention for struggling students.

“More than 40 percent of our students are connected to the military,” said Deputy Superintendent Brian Laubach. “The financial support offered by this grant strengthens the work and interventions we already have in place and allows us to expand these programs.”

The positive behavior program explains for kids how they should conduct themselves at school. Rather than catching kids breaking rules, the emphasis will be on rewarding good behavior. The focus might switch, for example, from a rule that says “Don’t run in the hallways” to one that says “We walk in the hallways.” Teachers will help kids practice what that looks like.

The academic intervention program is something the district already uses, but the grant will offer training to more teachers.

The program aims to ease the challenges that kids from military families face when their parents are deployed or when they are transferred to a new location. Clover Park educators will get training designed to strengthen their understanding of military dependents’ needs.

This is the fifth grant from the Defense Department fund that Clover Park has received. A previous grant enabled elementary schools to offer an extended school day with added science education. After that grant expired, the district was able to fund the program with local and state funds, Laubach said. That’s the goal for the new programs as well, he added.