The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

86 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT I t’s the start of the school year. Kids are settled in, student goals established, school routines in place, when suddenly families are informed that they must evacuate post. Sound familiar? Considering the impact of recent political events and the potential for natural disasters to affect our Foreign Service families abroad, a sudden departure frompost is far from unlikely. Sometimes families leave post during the school year without knowing when (or if) they will ever return. While the average evacuation lasts about three months, time away from post can be much longer. Those families who prepare and plan for a longer period of time tend to experience fewer frustrations. fact, by being as prepared as possible to tackle educational needs, families can maximize their sense of control at a time when they need it most. Here are some simple steps to get started. Step One: Contact the School at Post Before leaving post, time permitting, families will need to request transcripts and standardized test results, plus an official letter from the school indicating dates of attendance, class titles, materi- als covered and student grades earned to date. These documents could be emailed or faxed later, but it is optimal to have paper copies, originals or digital versions on hand as you depart. Know the virtual capabilities of your student’s school before an evacuation. Often students may be instructed to work their way through virtual or actual pack- ets of educational material developed by teachers from the evacuated post. Families should know beforehand if their student’s school will continue their stud- What is the best way families with school-aged children can be ready for the unexpected when confronted with an evacuation? By creating an educa- tion preparedness plan that suits specific family needs. Think “go bag” with your family’s educational needs in mind. In Marybeth Hunter is the education and youth officer in the State De- partment’s Family Liaison Office. Cecile Mines, lower left, and Courtney Colbert are FLO’s crisis management support team. Educational Preparedness When an Evacuation Disrupts School Like it or not, evacuations have become a fact of Foreign Service life. Here are some tips to ensure your child’s education is not compromised by a sudden departure from post. BY MARYBETH HUNTER , CEC I L E M I NES AND COURTNEY COLBERT