VALDOSTA – Pine Grove Middle School was awarded a Military Flagship School Award by the Georgia Department of Education last week.

The award is given to schools that go “above and beyond to provide a supportive environment for military students and families” and “provide specific outreach to military families and recognize and accommodate their unique needs,” according to the state education department.

Pine Grove Middle School was the only local school on the list with only seven awards given out statewide for 2020-21.

“It's my goal that Georgia will have the most military-friendly schools in the nation, addressing and accommodating the needs of the military families who make sacrifices on our behalf," Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement. “As someone who grew up in a military family myself, it is a joy to honor these seven schools for going above and beyond to serve and support military children."

The award was open to applications from all schools with each being asked to provide examples of their outreach to military families. The winners will each receive a visit, pending COVID-19 protocols, from Woods and a banner to display.

The state noted highlights from each school and shared the following from Pine Grove Middle:

“At Pine Grove Middle School, establishing procedures and services to support military-connected students is a top priority. School counselors work to ensure an empathetic environment that focuses on the specific needs of military-connected students through individual counseling, small groups, and referral to on-base or community counseling as needed. 

"The school partners with the Moody Air Force Base Youth Center to provide a bus route so students can easily participate in after-school programs. Staff receive ongoing professional development to help them understand how to address the specific needs of military students and families. 

"Upon entering the school building, there is a display highlighting military students and their achievements and Moody Squadron banners hang in the hallways. The school also takes advantage of the specialized skills and technological abilities of airmen at Moody AFB. The Moody Weather Division has co-taught lessons to sixth-grade students studying meteorology and Pine Grove was the first middle school in South Georgia to receive Georgia DOE STEM certification – an accomplishment the school attributes to the efforts of Moody AFB as a STEM partner.”

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