Purple Star Bulletin

Ohio Association of Purple Star Schools, Autumn 2019


Purple Star Bulletin

It you are reading this, the newly created Purple Star Bulletin (PSB), you are a Purple Star School or a supporter of military-connected students and the Purple Star movement, started here in Ohio! Purple Star Schools are almost 200 strong and growing and we need your help to keep the momentum going! The purpose of the PSB is to connect you to useful resources, keep you informed of news and issues pertaining to military-connected students, and to share best practices to help you more efficiently take care of your military-connected kids.

Meet the Editor

My name is Dr. Michelle Lewis and I am the editor of the Purple Star Bulletin. I am the Point of Contact (POC) at Hyatts Middle School, a Purple Star school, in the Olentangy Local School District in Delaware county. My district is a little north of Columbus and so far 14 of our schools have earned the Purple Star designation. I am an Air Force mom, a USO of Central and Southern Ohio volunteer, a marathon coach, a French and Spanish teacher, and an enthusiastic member of the Purple Star family! I have included a picture of me and Mr. Corey O'Brien (author of Newsletter #1 distributed summer 2019) at an Honor Flight this past spring representing some of our volunteer passions!

The First Newsletter

Earlier this summer many of you received Newsletter #1 from my friend and colleague, Mr. Corey O'Brien, the POC at Hamilton Township High School. He introduced you to his Purple Star family which included me and many others. I will be introducing you to these friends in upcoming Purple Star Bulletins in an attempt to let you know who we are so that we can support you as you take care of our military-connected students.

Purple Star on the Road

Many of us from the Purple Star family have been on the road, beginning with the First Annual Purple Star Summit in April, the month of the military child, at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The success of this event resulted in the Purple Star Round Tables during the first week of August. We were hosted by Hamilton Township High School in the Columbus area, Mad River Schools in the Dayton area, and Copley High School in the Akron area. We appreciate our gracious hosts and we thank all of you that took time out of your summers to participate in these events. Most of all, we were appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with you, and it is our hope that the PSB will be a vehicle for further collaboration.

Upcoming Events, Dates, and Deadlines

  • Purple Star School applications - Round 6 - opens on October 7 and closes on December 2. Encourage your colleagues to apply!
  • Awards are valid for three years, so renewals for the first Purple Star Schools in 2017 will begin in 2020 - more information on renewal from ODE in the future!
  • State Signing Day (Armed Forces Career Commitment Ceremony) will be taking place again in the spring of 2020, it is currently in the planning stages and a date has not been set. Last year 326 high school students took part in the ceremony - they all received red, white and blue graduation cords courtesy of the USO of Central and Southern Ohio. Close to 900 people including the students, military, parents, and guests attended this amazing event at COSI in downtown Columbus. More information in the next newsletter!
  • A State Purple Star Summit meeting is in the planning stages to take place in the summer of 2020. We will keep you posted!

Purple Star POC Change?

Has your POC changed at your school? Please share this information with me, Dr. Michelle Lewis via email (michelle_lewis@olsd.us) once you have "passed the baton".

  1. Name
  2. District
  3. School
  4. Staff/Building position/assignment
  5. Email address
  6. Phone number

Purple Star Media Presence

The Ohio Association of Purple Star Schools is on Facebook! Follow the Purple Star Schools Facebook Page and send us your photos and videos so we can share them with the Purple Star community. Not only are we on Facebook, but we are introducing our web page that has many resources for military-connected students and families. Click on this link to access this new resource https://www.ohiopurplestar.org/

Your Newsletter

In closing this introduction I remind you that the PSB has been created for you and we welcome your input! It is my belief that a good teacher is like a pirate, we take from others and make it our own - no need to reinvent the wheel! We hope to share your ideas through this newsletter but please don't stop there. Follow us on Facebook, like the Purple Star Schools Facebook page and share your joy, creativity, and triumphs with your Purple Star Family!

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Purple Star Banners!

Unfortunately, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) does not have the funding to make banners for Purple Star Schools. All schools received files with their award letter that has the official ODE Purple Star logo.

Ashley Pederson, POC at Liberty Tree Elementary School in the Olentangy Local School District was able to have a banner made for her school and for this editor's school, Hyatts Middle School, at no cost! How? She talked to the the photography company that works with our schools and they were happy to do this for us! The picture of her banner is above, and the picture below is Ashley and her Purple Star kids. Share your ideas with us!
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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Military Student Identifier (MSI)

Finding Military-Connected Students

Most Purple Star Schools are not located near a base so our military-connected students are not as obvious, they are hidden among the general population. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) requires that all states collect and report assessment data on military-connected students. Implementation of ESSA began in the 2017-18 school year. Ohio schools have been phasing in the use of the Military Student Identifier (MSI) as the instrument used to identify military-connected students. This is the second year of implementation of the MSI in most schools in Ohio.

Trying to Identify Military-Connected Students?

Someone in your district has information about military-connected students who have been officially identified. At my school, no one had the information directly, but it was easily obtained. I talked with a school counselor who emailed our district statistician who had the information to me in a few minutes. This information is a starting point but IT WILL NOT IDENTIFY ALL MILITARY-CONNECTED STUDENTS! Why? Well, first and foremost it is information that is voluntary from parents. Also, it does not identify students who have siblings are serving, it is only about parents.

What Has Worked for You in Identifying Military-Connected Students?

I will share what has worked at my suburban school. I will share more stories from the Purple Star family - which includes you! Please share your stories and ideas - we welcome your input!

Identifying Military-Connected Students

It Began in 2016-17

At my school, Hyatts Middle School, located in Delaware county north of Columbus, the process of identifying military-connected students began in 2016-17. Jason Durell, a school counselor at Liberty Middle School and part of the Purple Star Team (and one of the first Purple Star Schools in the state), met with counselors in the district to talk about the new Purple Star Program. Inspired, one of our school counselors, Bruce Fritch, went to all three grade level lunches (6-8) and asked students if they were military-connected. He identified a handful of students that he checked in on quarterly to monitor their progress.

Purple Star Begins!

The news about the Purple Star program started to spread throughout our district! As an Air Force mom I have been through a deployment and I could not imagine what it would have been like to experience that as a student and I wanted to help. In 2017-18 , my colleague Nancy Braun Poliseno took over the military-connected kids as Bruce was transitioning to retirement. We started with the previous list and then sent out a survey in our school newsletter to identify more students. We checked in with students informally on an individual basis.

Hyatts Military Kids Begins

In 2018-19 we started meeting with the students regularly, monthly for breakfast, and that's when the group began to grow. Before each meeting we sent out the list of military-connected students to the staff and ask them to remind the kids about the upcoming breakfast. Then, invitations to the breakfast were hand-delivered to students. It's the personal touch, making contact, and showing staff and students that military-connected kids do exist even in our school that has made the difference, I believe. Other students have seen this and have asked questions. The end result is that at almost every meeting last year we had new students, self-identified or identified by staff. We started the year with less than 10 and ended with close to 20.

So Far This Year...

Using the same process this year and 2 breakfast meetings later, 4 new students have been identified. There are 10 district-identified students so we are now over 20 students, although not all students choose to participate. We have an active group of 14-15 students.

Who are Hyatts Military kids?

Hyatts Military Kids are military-connected through immediate family: parent/guardian or sibling. These student have parents/guardians or siblings who are active duty or are serving in the guard/reserve, parents/guardians retired from the military (served 20 years or more), parents/guardians who are veterans and the student has experienced military life in their family such as a PCS (permanent change of station) and/or a deployment, and a few who have have parents that are veterans that served before they were born or when they were very young but want to connect with other kids who understand and value military service. Not all of my students qualify for the provisions of the Military Interstate Children's Compact (explained in another article), but supporting military-connected students is what being a Purple Star School is all about!

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Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3)

What is the Compact?

The Military Interstate Children's Compact is an agreement or compact among the 50 states and the District of Columbia that attempts to level the playing field for military dependents of active-duty service members. The Commission (MIC3) is the group that meets to discuss the needs of military-connected students and their families.

Who is covered by the Compact?

Children of active duty members of the uniformed services, National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders, commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Unites States Public Health Service (USPHS), and members or veterans who are medically discharged or retired for one year are eligible for assistance under the Compact. The Compact also covers students of members who perish on active duty for a period of one year following their death.

The Compact attempts to reduce education challenges such as, eligibility, placement and graduation for transitioning military families. On average, military students will attend six to nine different school systems during their K-12 years.

The Commission - Ohio Creates Purple Star Schools!

The Ohio MIC3 is a very active group that sought to take the Compact one step further by creating the Purple Star School designation in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The idea was not just to solve problems through the Compact but perhaps avoid problems and provide support for military-connected students and their families. The Purple Star Point of Contact (POC) is the critical link in a school to provide information to military-connected families.

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MIC3 Meeting August 29, 2019

This picture features participants in the August MIC3 meeting. They are part of the Purple Star family that you will be learning about in upcoming issues of the PSB. In this issue, we are starting at the beginning with the the first Commissioner of the MIC3 in Ohio, Tom Rutan!

Front Row Left to Right: Thomas D. “Tom” Rutan (MIC3 Commissioner 2009-2012), Dr Michelle Lewis (Olentangy Hyatts Middle School Educator, “Purple Star Bulletin” Publisher), State Council Chair Pete LuPiba (MIC3 Commissioner 2012-Present, Former U.S. Navy), Major Crystalyn Fillmore (U.S. Army Command Columbus), Major Daniel Tower (U.S. Army Command Columbus), Shari Obrenski (Ohio Federation of Teachers First Vice Chair, Founding State Council Member, Cleveland Public Schools), Erin Lunday (Wright-Patterson Community Resident, Educator), Jason Durell (Olentangy Liberty Middle School Counselor, U.S. Marines Veteran); Ashley Twedt (Bellville Elementary School Intervention Specialist, Clear Fork Valley Schools), State Senator Andrew O Brenner (Member of the Ohio General Assembly).

Back Row Left to Right: Corey O'Brien (Hamilton Township High School, First Purple Star School in Nation), Adreana Tartt (Ohio Department of Health), Chris Picha (Ohio Department of Veterans Services), Ken Baker (Ohio Association of Secondary Administrators Exec Dir), Jared Shank (Ohio Department of Higher Education), Janet Wynn (School Liaison Officer, W-P AFB), Lt. Colonel Richard Holl (U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Defense Representative), Mark Scherer (Family Readiness & Warrior Support Ohio National Guard), Chad Wyen (Mad River Schools Supt), Chip Merkle (Education Programs Ohio National Guard). Missing from Picture but Present, Thomas D. Rutan MIC3 State Council of Ohio Host Roxanne Price (Ohio High School Athletic Association Legal Counsel, Founding State Council Member).

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Meet Tom Rutan!


Picture left to right: Colonel Thomas N. Moe (USAF retired, POW, former Director of Ohio Department of Veterans Services), Pete LuPiba (MIC3 Commissioner 2012-present, US Navy veteran); Thomas D. "Tom" Rutan (MIC3 Commissioner 2009-2012).

The Rutan State Council

The Ohio MIC3 was renamed the MIC3 Rutan State Council in October of 2018 at the Annual Business Meeting of the National MIC3 in Cleveland. This was to honor the contributions of Ohio's first MIC3 Commissioner, Thomas D. "Tom" Rutan, pictured above with longtime friends and colleagues,Thomas Moe and Pete LuPiba. It is Tom's belief that the MIC3 Rutan State Council "is engaged, not obligated". It is this difference that has resulted in Ohio leading the way in taking care of military-connected students and families. The members of the council are not fulfilling an obligation, they are following their passion, taking care of military-connected students so that our military can serve with less worry. Following Tom's leadership, you will see MIC3 members all over the state honoring Purple Star Schools and promoting the MIC3 in order to better the lives of military-connected students and their families.

Who is Tom Rutan?

Perhaps the best way to describe Tom Rutan is as a lifelong educator and a longtime administrator. He began his career in the classroom as a World History teacher and on the field as a football and baseball coach in both the Upper Arlington and Worthington High Schools and moved through many other roles: athletic director at Westland High School where he supported the AFJROTC , longest serving principal at Grove City High School where he supported the NJROTC program, OHSAA past president, ODE administrator, administrator for a non-profit organization, and the first Commissioner of the MIC3 in Ohio. Tom is now happily retired but still an active participant in the MIC3! It is this plethora of experience that helped to drive the creation of the diverse MIC3 council in Ohio.

Creating a Council

His experience drove him to seek out more than the prescribed members of the council, but to involve the many stakeholders involved in the education of military-connected students. It was his feeling that this diversity was necessary to address the needs of the military child and ease the transition resulting from a PCS (Permanent Change of Station). This included educators, military members, those involved in extra-curricular activities, and those serving the military/veteran community.

Tom's Legacy

On July 15, 2019, the MIC3 Rutan State Council turned 10 years old and the council gathered to celebrate. Colonel Moe (Tom's longtime friend) was there and honored his granddaughter's newly earned Purple Star School (Olentangy Berlin High School). Commissioner LuPiba then asked the first Commissioner to speak. Ever the humble man, Tom said that although he did not serve in the military like his friend, as Commissioner "I was able to support the military in a way I never dreamed!" This is the message that he leaves with us, whether we have worn the uniform or not, we can all serve! Commissioner Rutan, thank you for your inspired leadership that is the Rutan State Council!

A Surprise from Julien, Ms. Lewis' son

My Son Surprised Me!

March 17, 2017 was one of the happiest days of my life! My colleagues, students, and family collaborated with my son in order to surprise me shortly after he returned from his deployment in the Middle East. He was stationed in California and he told me that he did not know when he would be able to travel back to Ohio. At that point it had been almost 2 years since I had seen him. For those of you familiar with military life, you understand what it is like when leave is canceled. We had tried to plan a vacation on more than one occasion only to have his leave canceled.

Not only should we take care of our military-connected kids, but we should remember our colleagues. Oftentimes staff members have a spouse or child who is serving far away from home. Whether it is through a deployment or being stationed on the other side of the country or the world, military life is not easy! Don''t forget to take care of each other!

Professional Development - Ashland University

Dr. Cheryl "Dee" Basinger, the Director of Professional Development Services at Ashland University has developed a course for POCs, Military-Connected Youth: Building Resiliency for Education and Life. This course is designed to help you earn a semester hour of credit while you help the military-connected students at your school. You will be documenting time that you spend attending conferences, meetings, and/or time spent implementing programs or events in your school. Dr. Basinger can be reached at cbasinger@ashland.edu and the information about the course and enrollment information is included below.

In addition, Dr. Basinger is working with the Purple Star team to create a web page where resources that you and your military-connected students and families might need will be located in one easy website. She is also working with the team to create meaningful professional development for Purple Star POCs. We will share more information as it becomes available!


Ohio Department of Education: Purple Star Schools

Click here to be connected to the ODE Purple Star page which has the Purple Star Schools application.

Regional Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee (RISFAC)

The RISFAC is a group of community partners that meet in order to share resources and find ways to better address the needs of active duty service members and their families as well as veterans. It is a great way to network in order to find out about services and opportunities for your military-connected students and their families.

Ohio Purple Star Schools

Click here to be connected to resources for your military-connected students and their families on the Ohio Purple Star Schools web page.

Troops to Teachers

Click here for information about this program to help veterans become K-12 teachers.


Klein, A. (2016, March 31). The Every Student Succeeds Act: An ESSA Overview. Education Week. Retrieved Month Day, Year from http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/every-student-succeeds-act/

Miltary Interstate Childrent's Compact Commissionhttp://www.mic3.net/background.html

Mesecar, D. and Soifer, D. (September 2018). The Lexington Institute.Getting School Districts Ready for the Military Student Identifier. Retrieved August 5, 2019 from https://forstudentsuccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/MSI-Lex-Report_final.pdf

Adams, J. (2016, June 1). Schools Will Begin to Track Students from Miitary Families. EdSource. Retrieved August 5, 2019 from https://edsource.org/2016/are-students-from-military-families-succeeding-schools-will-begin-to-track/565042

List of Acronyms

AFJROTC: Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps

ESSA: Every Student Succeeds Act

MIC3: Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission

MSI: Military Student Identifier

NJROTC: Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps

ODE: Ohio Department of Education

OHSAA: Ohio High School Athletic Association

PCS: Permanent Change of Station

POC: Point of Contact, military family liaison

PSB: Purple Star Bulletin

RISFAC: Regional Inter Service Family Assistance Committee

USO: United Service Organizations