By Mya Wells

As part of a proud military family, I’ve moved to several new places—Florida, Louisiana, and Texas—and each time my family moved, I faced the challenge of transitioning to a new school. It’s never easy for military kids like me to adapt to a new school—everything from understanding how the class schedule works to finding new friends can present big hurdles. But when I came to Stacey Junior/Senior High School in San Antonio, TX as an eighth grader five years ago, I had extra support in overcoming these hurdles—thanks to the Student 2 Student program (S2S).

S2S is a student-led, teacher-advised program that works hand in hand with the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) to ease the many struggles of being a military kid. S2S students strive to make the transition from one school to another as easy as possible, and to ensure that new students are well taken care of during their transitions so that they can graduate from high school ready for college or careers.

Moving from one state or country to another can cause military kids to fall behind their peers in school, which can then jeopardize their success in the long run. S2S ensures that students engage with their teachers before they begin school, so they both understand where the students are in their education and where they might need more support to be on track. Through S2S, I got to know my teachers before I even started classes, which helped me feel more comfortable and also allowed them to better understand how to support me from my first day of school.

S2S is built on five important values: academics, service, leadership, finding the way, and relationships. I know from experience that it can be hard to adapt to a new environment and find your place in a school and community. S2S helps students maneuver through school and find connections in the area, giving them a sense of security and friendship. Leadership and service go hand in hand, too. As a student-led program, S2S members work with teacher advisers to plan events and service projects to benefit both their school and their community. For example, I’ve volunteered to help students at other schools start their own S2S programs, which has helped me build my leadership skills.

Another part of being in S2S is helping all students prepare for college and life after. My school’s S2S program hosts a College Week that is solely dedicated to helping students prepare and get excited for their postsecondary education through activities like a college pennant design contest, college shirt day, and “dress as your dream career” day. All S2S students also have access to the Career Cruising website where they can create resumes, find colleges, and explore careers. In this way, S2S isn’t just about helping military kids transition to new schools—it’s also about helping them make smooth transitions throughout their life.

There are thousands of S2S members that help even more students every year—including foreign exchange students and other students who face challenges in transitioning to a new school. With S2S continuing to grow, soon we will be able to say that no child, military or not, is being forgotten and left behind.