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In welcoming 228 new teachers to military schools in the Pacific this year, Dr. Nancy Bresell, Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific and Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools-Guam director, has a message of personal responsibility directed at all staff members.

“We want to have a culture of conduct to always remember that we are educators, that we are teaching children of parents that may be deployed in harm’s way and we’re representing the United States of America,” she said.

Bresell’s words come following a tough year for DODDS-Pacific. In recent months, two educators at Kubasaki High School on Okinawa ran into legal trouble. Social studies teacher David Jones is on administrative leave and awaiting trial on alleged marijuana possession. Former science teacher Jack Russell Hubbard, retired from DODDS-Pacific this summer, is facing rape and sodomy charges in Kentucky, where he taught high school science in the late 1970s.

In May, a Yokota Middle School teacher was placed on administrative leave following allegations by some in the school community that “inappropriate photos” were seen on a school computer used by the teacher.

Bresell said Tuesday she believes the Yokota teacher will be starting the school year on administrative leave. The issue, she said, “is still being worked by school administrators at Yokota.”

While acknowledging that it was a rocky year, Bresell defended her staff.

“I am not sure that these recent incidents reflect anything like what our workforce” is really like, she said. “There’s no greater honor to educate our youth, particularly our military children … The vast majority of our work force exercises good judgment and holds itself accountable.”

Bresell this year hopes to bolster communication between schools and parents to stay abreast of issues facing the military community, she said.

At all the schools, but especially in South Korea, where the issue surfaced last year, student bullying will be closely watched, Bresell said.

“If it flares up this year, we will address it immediately,” Bresell said.

She also said schools are provided with training and materials to discourage bullying and to guide students toward making better choices.

“We want our schools to remain positive places for our students to learn,” she said. “Our goal is to maintain safe schools.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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