Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day which feels like the perfect opportunity to tell you about a very special person to me: Christi Ham.
Married to Retired Army General Carter Ham, Christi spent nearly four decades of her life as a military spouse, traveling from state to state, and from country to country.
As she traveled the world she taught both middle and high school. She also established a developmental studies program for supporting college-bound students with learning disabilities.
Knowing the whole host of challenges facing military families, Christi wanted to use her experience in education to help lessen that burden. Fortunately for me a year ago she partnered with our team to start an advocacy effort called Military Families for High Standards.
The goal of this project is to help make transitions from school to school easier on military-connected kids and their families – through high, consistent state standards.
When military-connected students start at a new school in a new state, the differing academic expectations frequently result in students being significantly behind, or repeating material they have already learned. With change and uncertainty dominating military families’ lives, Christi believes that consistent standards across states are worth fighting for.
Christi has told me a number of times that the reason she feels so passionately about this work is because “military families sacrifice so much to serve our country, that they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their children’s education too.”
She is inspired by the fact that, while military life demands frequent relocation, military families “function with great resolve.”
Last year, Christi wrote: “Yes, we have faced many difficulties in our lives as military spouses. And we will face many more in the future. But we are not victims. Don’t kid yourself; we are not afraid of the hardships and we will continue to meet them head on.”
With that attitude and resilience, she makes for a great advocate. Military families are lucky to have her guidance and support.
I know Christi is always looking for new military spouses to join in her advocacy efforts. If you’re interested in meeting Christi and finding out how to help, send her a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m truly honored to know Christi and am excited to continue to work with Military Families for High Standards as she leads the charge toward a better future for military-connected students.
Jim Cowen is the Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success