GROTON, Conn. – The Groton Public School District recently recognized the Clinical Counselor for Children at the Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) for her commitment to and support of the children of military families.
Dianne George, of the FFSC Counseling and Advocacy division, received the Friends of Education Award for her work with children, families, and staff at Charles C. Barnum Elementary School.
The Groton Board of Education presents the Friends of Education Award to one or more members of the community who make outstanding contributions to the quality of education in Groton public schools. This year a staff member at Charles Barnum nominated George. When it was put to a vote, the board approved by a wide margin.
“Dianne has been such a special support for the students at Charles Barnum who really benefit from their ability to share in her groups about the unique experience of family deployment,” wrote one staff member of George. “A deployment of a loved one can be such a hard transition for families; and at Charles Barnum, the students are given the opportunity to talk with Dianne and their peers about their experiences. It is incredibly valuable for everyone who participates!”
At Charles Barnum, George directs a Deployment Club to support military children whose parents are on deployment. The club helps teach children about the mission of the military and about what deployed parents are doing for the nation. It also allows children to network and share experiences.
“The main goal of the club is to help children learn how best to manage the feelings they have about their active duty parent leaving home for an extended period of time,” said George. “Children don’t necessarily do well with change; and depending on their age, an underway period or deployment can be very confusing.”
George and the club help the children deal with their emotions.
“Children generally get angry when they are sad; and for the most part, really don’t understand what they are angry about,” said George. “They get anxious too, and worry about what they don’t fully understand. The club helps them with these feelings and conflicts, and promotes understanding, so that the children can hopefully make some sense of it and put their world back into some order.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in school closings across Connecticut, including Charles Barnum, students, staff, and parents could not recognize “Miss Dianne,” as George is known, at a typical school assembly or presentation. Instead, Charles Barnum staff got creative.
“We had a reverse parade for the Charles Barnum families one afternoon, and I invited [Miss Dianne] to come and wave to the students,” said Seth Danner, school principal at Charles Barnum. “At the end, our Teacher of the Year from last year announced three awards, and Dianne was one of them.”
It was an unexpected but pleasant surprise for George, who emphasized her gratitude for the relationships built during her years working with children, teachers, and parents.
“I had no idea there was such an award and was quite surprised to have received it,” said George. “I am so grateful for and appreciate the relationships I’ve developed at Charles Barnum over the last 8-9 years, maybe longer. The dedication the staff have to all the students, and how they prepare and welcome the military children who transfer in and out is award-worthy as well.”
Of course, for George, her love of what she does is her main motivation.
“The best part of my job is working with the children, and to have it acknowledged in this way is very special,” she concluded.
“Some SUBASE Good News” (SSGN) is an effort to provide uplifting stories about the personnel, programs, and initiatives that help make Naval Submarine Base New London, “The First and Finest.”