KSDE Weekly

Standards and Instruction

Purple Star School district officials and families attend governor’s proclamation signing for Month of the Military Child

To recognize April as the Month of the Military Child, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a proclamation on March 27 with families and administrators from two of the five Purple Star school districts in Kansas. 

The Purple Star designation has been given to Derby Unified School District 260 and Mulvane USD 263 for supporting McConnell Air Force Base families; Ft. Leavenworth USD 207 and Leavenworth USD 453 for supporting Ft. Leavenworth families; and Geary County USD 475 for supporting Ft. Riley families.   

Mateo Lampon Pujols, a third-grade student at Derby’s Wineteer Elementary, said he feels his school is “a nice place.”  

“We get to learn with nice teachers,” he said, adding that other McConnell children are welcomed, especially when they’re transitioning from another military base.  

“So that means if they just move in and have lost all their old friends,” he said, “it would be a great school for them.” 

Mateo’s father, Staff Sgt. Carlos Lampon Torres, said having his son in a school in the Derby community that embraces military families gives him peace of mind.  

“Knowing that he’s being recognized for being a Purple Star kid is an amazing experience,” he said. 

Heather Bohaty, superintendent of Derby USD 260, said her district’s peer-to-peer welcome programs are a key part of the relationships established with McConnell students. 

“Knowing how to get to class, having students sit with them at lunch,” she said, “and we wear green shirts on Green Friday. It’s making sure students coming in fit right in, knowing some of those Derby traditions.” Derby USD 260 students and staff celebrate district pride by wearing green shirts on Green Fridays.  

The Kansas State Board of Education approved the Kansas Purple Star School Recognition Program in October 2022. It is a partnership between the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and the Kansas Military Children Education Council (KMCEC) designed to respond to the educational challenges military-connected children face during their transition to a new school to keep them on track to be college, workforce and life-ready.  

An estimated 10,000 students in Kansas have at least one parent who is an active-duty member of the military. 

Jackie Williams, the mother of two sons who attend Ft. Leavenworth USD 207 and Leavenworth USD 453 schools, said she appreciates the “phenomenal” teachers in her Purple Star districts, many of whom are military spouses who often bring the experiences they’ve had in other parts of the world into their classrooms.   

As a Ft. Leavenworth USD 207 school board member, Williams said the partnership the board has with the district’s teachers is vital because they won’t have many of their students for more than one or two years. 

“If we can help with that transition and then send them on their way, [they’re] ready to transition to the next school,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful way to see everyone working together.” 

Williams said her “momma heart” was put at ease when her family returned to Ft. Leavenworth from a five-year tour in Korea a couple of years ago. She said it was Joni McCoy, her son Duke’s fifth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary at the time, who took the extra time to ensure Duke’s integration back into school here in Kansas was as smooth as possible. 

“In that moment, all that anxiety we have with every transition we have with school just melted away,” Williams said. “All our teachers do that. It’s important. It makes a difference.”  

Duke is now a seventh grader at Patton Junior High in Leavenworth USD 207. His older brother, Cayman, is a sophomore at Leavenworth High School in Leavenworth USD 453. He said he sees the Leavenworth community as a good place for military families to stay. 

“Leavenworth is one of those posts where you can stabilize your entire career whether you’re a teacher or you work in corrections,” Cayman said. “It’s one of those stabilizing places where you can retire essentially.” 

Dr. Keith Mispagel, superintendent of Ft. Leavenworth USD 207, said being a Purple Star district and having the support of all the education and military entities within Leavenworth County is critical for the successful transitions of military families year after year.  

“Sometimes they’re only here one year in Kansas, sometimes a couple of years and they’re going somewhere else,” he said. “We want them to have a great experience while they’re with us.” 

Posted: Apr 4, 2024,
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