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School Dept. Wants to Help Military Families

School officials will survey the town in February to identify the interest.

Westborough school officials want to help military families here get services they could use, Superintendent Marianne O’Connor says.

A school survey planned for February will seek to identify the interest, because “I’m not even sure what the need is here,” she says.

School officials’ help would include directing Westborough families to Staying Strong, an initiative by the Red Sox Foundation and the Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, O’Connor says.

Staying Strong is “a parent guidance website for military connected families,” according to its website.

O’Connor says the military has found with families that “once they exit the military, if you’re not in a community where there’s a military base, these folks just go back to where they came from, or they move, and there’s no system to track where they go.”

“They try to immerse back into a regular community or culture, and yet they’ve had a very different experience. And their family has had a very different experience,” O’Connor says.

“The primary caretaker’s been left behind. The dynamics in the family has changed. And so we just want to do an outreach and say, ‘Look. If you’re out there …”

O’Connor says resident Brent French, who has been deployed twice, mentioned Staying Strong to her. And state Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) discussed it in a letter.

Staying Strong is “looking to support people in the community that have been deployed or will be deployed. They are especially looking at the school community,” O’Connor says.

“What other supports can we give you? You’re part of us, part of our community,” she says.

“What’s appropriate? For some kids, when the father’s come home they’ve had an assembly.”

The organization offers a support center, youth programs and family programs, she says.

And an educator toolkit includes ideas for “ways for us to support the kids in the schools,” O’Connor says.

Teachers can learn “how to go about talking to the child,” and about possible classroom activities to try, “so the child feels like others in the classroom understand their situation,” she says.

O’Connor has reached out to Northborough, Southborough, Shrewsbury, Marlborough about this topic.

“Say we only have two families that are affected. Do they have three or four or five, and maybe create their own little network,” she says.

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