Five & Thrive: McConnell, Derby Schools form Partnership Council

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  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

McConnell and Derby Public Schools recently developed a Military-Connected Educational Partnership Council.

The council consists of senior leaders from both McConnell and the school district. Its goal is to collaborate to enhance communication, continue to build our educational partnership and work in unison to improve experiences for military-connected families in the district. The council will also be empowered to recommend solutions directly to military and academic decision-makers.

The council first met in April to identify key stakeholders and define its purpose and framework. This was followed by a parent forum in May to share ideas, feedback and concerns. The council will meet quarterly to address current initiatives and needs and to hear any parent concerns.

The effort is the latest part of McConnell's continuing Five & Thrive efforts. The overall Five & Thrive initiative was started in 2021 by the spouse of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to increase focus and attention on the top five quality-of-life challenges for military families:  childcare, education, healthcare, housing and spouse employment – all of which directly affect military family readiness, resilience and retention. For the education side of Five & Thrive, the military lifestyle presents unique challenges beyond helping with homework or science fair projects.

"An average military-connected student will move an average of six to nine times during their parent's military career,” said Greg Martin, McConnell's School Liaison Program Manager. “Having this council in place will continue to help current students thrive and future students as they transition into McConnell. I believe this council can have a tangible effect on their lives and their parents."

Derby Public Schools—Unified School District 260—recognized this long ago. Nearly 13 percent of the district's 6,867 students are military-affiliated. Thus, the school district and McConnell have a long-standing partnership regarding support for students, families and education.

For example, within the Derby Public Schools, its Student-2-Student groups have been around for more than 20 years, bringing military and non-military students together to create a positive academic environment and ease transitions that come from military families moving every few years. This program continues today with McConnell hosting program members from Derby North Middle School and Derby High School in April, allowing them to tour aircraft, base workstations, participate in leadership and teambuilding activities and learn more about the Air Force by having lunch with Airmen in a "Chat 'n Chew" session.

The close McConnell-Derby ties also led to the creation and introduction of a local chapter of the All-Pro Dad program at Wineteer Elementary School during the 2023-2024 school year. The program participants visit the school for monthly activities to strengthen ties between the students and their parents or other close adults.

Another example of that Derby-McConnell partnership has been the Fist Bumps and High Fives initiative, where uniformed Airmen and other base personnel greet students as they arrive at school with literal fist bumps and high fives to brighten each child's day, offer encouragement and start their school day off on a positive note, while also providing solid adult – and military – role models. A host of smaller efforts take place throughout the school year, with individual Team McConnell Airmen serving as coaches and mentors with local schools in Derby and Wichita and even becoming volunteer crossing guards at El Paso Elementary School in Derby.

The newly instated education partnership council is the latest example of that commitment.

For more information on the council, contact Greg Martin, School Liaison Program Manager, or (316) 759-3326, or visit