GDOE presents 2 schools with Military Flagship School Award

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rebeckah Medeiros
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

The Georgia Department of Education presented Berrien Middle School and Pine Grove Elementary School the 2022-2023 Military Flagship School Award on April 24, 2023.


The education department selects eight schools across the state of Georgia for the award each year, and it recognizes schools that go above and beyond to provide a supportive environment for military students and their families.


“Our school strives to be connected with events on the base and be aware of things that could affect our service members’ children,” said Al Swilley, Pine Grove Elementary School principal. “PGES takes great pride in supporting these children as their parents are supporting our community and nation.”


The Berrien Middle School principal agreed.


“We value the relationships with our military students and their families that we've built over the years and anticipate all those to come,” said Margo Mathis. “We are proud of the recognition for our school.”


Another key component for the recognition was the dedication of Darren Hill, 23rd Force Support Squadron school liaison officer, who is the person charged with networking between the base and local schools to advocate for military children in kindergarten through 12th grade.


“I have worked really hard to build a working relationship with our local school systems and Moody AFB,” Hill said. “I solicited Military Family Life Counselors to serve in the local schools that have a high population of military-connected students. Prior to taking this position, we didn’t have any MFLCs in the local schools and now, we have eight serving across four school districts.”


In collaboration with Hill, Pine Grove Elementary School was the first to place an MFLC to provide one-on-one, group and family counseling services to military students and families.


“We are very proud to be able to serve our military families and their children,” Swilley said. “It’s a great honor to be presented with this award."


Over the last four years that the Military Flagship School Award has been in place, schools in the local community have been selected every year to receive this prestigious recognition.


“(Winning these awards) demonstrates that the community and our school systems value and support the military families assigned to Moody AFB,” Hill said. “The schools are doing an exceptional job of meeting the unique needs of military-connected students.”


Having a strong working relationship with local schools ensures teachers and staff know what types of challenges to expect and how to best support when educating military students so they can provide a positive experience.


This is the first year that, of the eight schools selected for the award, two of those schools are in the local community.