FORT POLK-- Education is a top priority for military families as they move to each duty station. Peggy Bluitt, Fort Polk Child and Youth Services school liaison officer, is present to provide support, resources and advocacy throughout each military family's stay at Fort Polk.
"My responsibility is to make sure that transitioning students face the least amount of barriers when they transition into the local school system," Bluitt said. "There's so many things that can impact or be a barrier just to getting your foot into the school system. I'm able to help eliminate a lot of those barriers by providing them information before they even set foot here on Fort Polk."
Bluitt helps soldiers and their families as they decide what school is best for their children.
"It's an open enrollment district, so not all of the schools have the same offerings," Bluitt said. "I'll be able to give them that knowledge of what schools have different educational opportunities."
She also provides information about school system policies on different topics including zoning and uniforms, as well as points military families to military child transition resources such as Military Student Transition Consultants, the Youth Sponsorship Program, and Military Family Life Consultants.
If families have children in special education, Bluitt helps them find the resources both in the school system and on the installation through the Exceptional Family Member Program.
"Sometimes these families come here thinking the services are going to be the same and that may not be the case," Bluitt said. "I am here to help them resolve any issues or concerns that come up."
She offers guidance and resources to military families choosing to homeschool or have their children enroll in Louisiana's online public schools.
Advocacy is also a main component of Bluitt's role as school liaison officer, as she helps military families through issues they may face in the school system, including ensuring that the Military Interstate Compact is enforced at local schools.
"I'm there to help if there is any conflict and also work with the school system to develop things that will benefit both military and civilian families," Bluitt said.
Additionally, Bluitt coordinates the Fort Polk School Liaison Board, chaired by Fort Polk Garrison Commander Col. Jarrett A. Thomas II, and composed of senior military spouses and agencies on the installation including EFMP and Army Community Service.
"We are an action board," she said. "We are here to promote military families. The installation is there to support them as they transition. That makes a difference."
Other academic resources Bluitt provides includes tutoring tools like tutor.com and Eureka Math, and post-secondary education opportunities from finding scholarships for military students as they move on to college to helping them find colleges of interest to them.
"I'm here to help military families," Bluitt said. "I want them to know that they are not alone."
For more information on school liaison services, contact Bluitt via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (337) 531-6673.