Children whose parents serve in the military face challenges with their education most of their classmates do not experience.

They move, on average, six to nine times during their time in school, according to Department of Defense officials. And those moves take away the continuity enjoyed by students who spend their entire academic careers in a single school district.

Now, DoD officials have launched a two-year college readiness program called the National Math and Science Initiative(NMSI).

Camden County High School, with 19 percent of its student population from homes of parents with ties to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, is among the schools targeted.

The program is designed to create consistent learning in all participating schools while preserving local control.

“We find that the increased (advanced placement) student outcomes are not limited to course work results,” said Steve Loden, principal at Camden High. “The students in the AP classes are excelling in other standardized tests as a result of the strategies implemented by the teachers participating in the NMSI professional learning opportunity.”

The program has been a success where it has been implemented. Students have seen an average 45 percent increase in mastery of college-level concepts in math and science.

“This is great news for Kings Bay military families and Camden County Schools,” said Capt. Chester Parks, commanding officer at Kings Bay. “We hope this program will help further prepare Camden County students for STEM-related careers, including possible opportunities to serve in the U.S. Navy or other branches of the military. The Department of Defense is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation, so it only makes sense that we help develop high quality STEM initiatives in our school systems.”

NMSI is a member of the Defense STEM Education Consortium, which is committed to helping the department improve access for all students to pursue STEM careers and to consider DoD laboratories as places of employment.

“The opportunity to partner with NMSI on this DoD STEM grant reaches beyond the high school students and teachers,” said Denise Cato, director of federal programs for the Camden school district. “Middle school educators also participate in the training sessions and embed the strategies in their lessons. As the middle school students transition to the high school, they will encounter the same best practices as they did in grades six through eight. A seamless instructional approach will lead to reduced gaps in learning.”

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