DoDEA Celebrates 75 Years of Excellence

DoDEA's 75th Anniversary Periods of Focus

The 75th anniversary will be a year-long commemoration. We’ll start our celebration looking at the opening of our first schools in post-World War II in Germany, Japan, and Austria. We will conclude the commemoration with graduations at the end of the school year in June 2022.

In between, we will acknowledge important milestones and all the entities that comprise DoDEA today. We'll highlight our history, significant achievements, and people. Seventy-five years is a wide span of time to cover. We have created 3 periods of focus in our systemic campaign.

PR for Principals - Historical Preservation and Storytelling

PR for Principals - Historical Preservation and Storytelling

The tasks of documenting and preserving the history of the Department of Defense (DoD) school system as well as honoring/celebrating the rich history and traditions of our past is of enormous importance and value to DoDEA, the DoD, and the Nation. Documenting the DoDEA mission changes and growth of delivering a quality education to military-connected children around the globe provides critical history and data for future leaders. The preservation of our system’s history, including individual schools, helps mold the legacy for future generations and for the millions of Americans who were educated overseas and in DoD schools stateside since 1946.

Early Years

1946-1975

October – December 2021

Consolidation

1976-1994

January – March 2022

Modernization

1995-2022

April – June 2022

From our early beginnings, DoD schools have maintained an ongoing focus on continuous improvement, and a promise and commitment to ensure 'excellence in education for every student, every day, everywhere.'” - Tom Brady, Director

During the 2021-2022 school year, we will celebrate 75 years as a school system. We’ll look back with gratitude on the remarkable men and women who made it their life’s work to care for, educate, and empower more than 15 million military-connected children who have passed through our doors. The DoDEA experience is characterized by an enduring commitment to excellence in every facet of teaching and learning – to provide military-connected children with the education they need and deserve.

Join us this school year as we celebrate DoDEA’s 75th anniversary…Discovering the past, understanding the present, and creating a better future.


DoDEA'S HISTORY

DoDEA has a long and proud history of serving military families at locations around the world. The school system we know today as the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), formally began with the establishment of dependents schools in October 1946 in the occupied countries of Germany, Austria and Japan.

Since that foundational year, the DoDEA footprint has expanded across the country and around the globe to meet the educational needs of military-connected youth. Over time, we have grown, merged, consolidated, reorganized, and changed many times.

You can read more about our history from the early days of the western frontier to our current day 21st century schools.


Michael Hogan interviews DoDEA Director Tom Brady on our 75th anniversary and the enduring commitment of our teachers to the mission of educating military connected students.

Joint Force Radio 75th Anniversary Interview

AFN Europe

MC@ Michael Hogan interviews DoDEA Director Tom Brady on our 75th anniversary and the enduring commitment of our teachers to the mission of educating military connected students.

AFN Europe Interview Transcript

“Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!" 
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

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For 75 years DoDEA has educated and graduated military-connected students who have gone on to contribute to and thrive in every aspect of American life and culture; countless men and women who have become richer in many ways because of their unique DoDEA experiences.

Graduation is a culminating event for us as a school system and a highly visible symbol of what college and career readiness means to our students and their families. Our teachers and support staff take pride in the united effort it took to support students and to make this milestone possible for our military connected students.

Through their pursuit of excellence, our graduating students have achieved extraordinary things. This year is no different. As we conclude another successful school year and the next generation of leaders prepare to graduate, DoDEA salutes our graduates. Congratulations Class of 2022!

Memories of past graduations.

 


"Nearly 850 high school seniors are joining DoDEA-Pacific’s 75th graduating class
By Alex Wilson (Source: Stars and Stripes)

"DoDEA seniors’ last checklist: caps, gowns and diplomas"
By Jennifer H. Svan (Source: Stars and Stripes)


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Graduation Exercises at our 41 DoDEA high schools across the school system have begun. This year, about 2568 seniors will earn a DoDEA diploma.

The modernization and 21st century years (1995-2022) ushered in an era of organizational refinement, change, drawdowns/growth, and forward momentum for the unified school system known today as DoDEA.

On the education front, this period was marked by strategic planning, continuous improvement, enhanced educational opportunities, consistency of practice in curriculum/instruction/assessment, and continuous improvement in student achievement.

In the business operations arena, this era saw the marshalling of talent, fiscal resources, and technology needed to support robust teaching and learning as well as the integration of 21st century technology, tools and facilities across the system.

As the world faced extraordinary encounters with terrorism, conflict, natural disasters, school shootings, racial injustice, and a global pandemic, educators and support personnel mobilized to meet the impact of those challenges in schools and to support and protect military-connected students and families.

While there has been much change over the 75-year history of DoDEA, one thing remains constant -- students are at the core of everything we do. The DoDEA experience has always been characterized by an enduring commitment to excellence in every facet of teaching and learning – to provide military-connected children with the education they need and deserve. From our earliest days, an army of remarkable men and women who made it their life’s work to care for, educate, and empower more than 15-million military-connected children who have passed through our doors.

That is a proud legacy that lives on.

Influential historical events coinciding with the Era 3 period (1995-2022) which impacted DoDEA operations in some way.

World Focal Points

  • Terrorism
  • Conflict / War
  • Natural Disasters
  • Pandemics
  • School Shootings
  • Technology / web / social media

DoDEA Focal Points

  • College and Career Readiness
  • Advances in Student Achievement / Excellence
  • School Security / Safety
  • 21st Century Facilities
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Strategic Planning
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Restructuring / Resizing
  • Integration of technology
  • Family / Deployment Support
  • COVID 19 Impact
  • Continuity of Education

 

21st Century Schools Initiative

The 21st Century Schools initiative has been an extraordinary and innovative journey to transform learning spaces that employ technology in ways that improve teaching and learning. It has changed the way DoDEA teachers teach and enhanced the way DoDEA students learn. DoDEA has always been strongly committed to ensuring that the children of military families receive an excellent education that prepares them for successful careers and to be active contributors to their communities and the nation.



 

POTUS/FLOTUS Visits to U.S. Military Installations Involving DoDEA Students/Schools

Presidential and other senior leader visits to DoD school

As only one of two federal school systems, DoDEA is sometimes referred to as the President’s School System. Over the course of our 75 year history, schools and military installations have hosted visits from dignitaries including Presidents, First Ladies, Vice Presidents, Members of Congress and scores of other government and foreign officials.

DoD students at installations around the world have had the opportunity to see, and in some cases, interact with our senior leaders as they have visited active duty and DoD civilians and their families serving abroad and at stateside locations.

Here are a few of those memorable events.

DoDEA Americas

DoDEA Europe

DoDEA Pacific

 

Compiled List of POTUS/FLOTUS Visits to U.S. Military Installations Involving DoDEA Students/Schools

Compiled List of POTUS/FLOTUS Visits to U.S. Military Installations Involving DoDEA Students/Schools

List of POTUS/FLOTUS and senior leader visits involving DoDEA students from the Americas, Europe, and Pacific DoDEA schools.

 


 

Strategic Planning in DoDEA

In 1995, DoDEA developed its first Community Strategic Plan (CSP) under the direction of Director Lillian Gonzalez, in concert with representatives of all its stakeholder groups. This plan, which guided DoDEA activities for the years 1995 through 2000, ensured that all schools work towards reaching the same priority benchmarks on the road to achieving their goals.

The first CSP identified ten goals in 14 benchmarks designed to support optimal student learning in areas as diverse as academic performance in specific subject areas and organizational development. Subsequent strategic plans refined previous editions, targeted goals for improvement based on evolving priorities, focused on both student achievement and organizational performance needed to support teaching and learning.

All the plans contained common elements essential to the strategic planning process including, vision and mission statements, core values or beliefs, organizational goals, strategies, benchmarks and associated performance measures.

The plans were developed for a five year period. The plans are monitored and updated annually or as needed, published as numbered volumes, alignments or updates.

Strategic planning demonstrates DoDEA’s commitment to continuously improve in its efforts to educate and prepare military-connected students. An additional rationale for strategic planning is to increase collaboration with and accountability to its most important publics: military families and military communities.

DoDEA has published periodic accountability reports to communicate information to the public and to address progress in student performance, as well as resource allocations and demographics.

The current Blueprint for Continuous Improvement, under the direction of Director Thomas Brady, represents DoDEA’s next step as a learning organization. Continuous improvement is a research-based, ongoing process intended to increase overall effectiveness and make a positive, measurable impact on all stakeholders, primarily students, by focusing on and implementing three essential elements: learn and share, examine and plan, and act and evaluate. For DoDEA, this means setting and working towards ambitious goals, learning from our successes and challenges, and making improvements every day to benefit military-connected students.

Today, the practice of monitoring and updating has evolved into a process called “analyze and adjust.” A team of senior leaders carefully review data from across the school system, identify necessary adjustments, and collectively agree upon and publish appropriate adjustments in successive volumes. The adjustments in each volume are the direct result of a comprehensive assessment of DoDEA’s current environment, documented progress towards meeting the established goals, and responsiveness to DoDEA’s evolving needs.

Release Date Title School Years Covered
April 2018 Blueprint for Continuous Improvement
Volume 2
Volume 3
2018/2019 – 2023/2024
August 2013 Community Strategic Plan (CSP) 2013/2014 – 201720/18
2013 Community Strategic Plan (CSP)
2013 Background report
2012/2013 – 2017/2018
2006 Community Strategic Plan (CSP)
2008 Alignment
2006/07 – 20011/2012
March 2001* Community Strategic Plan (CSP) 2001/02 – 2006/2007
August 1995 Community Strategic Plan (CSP)
Volume 1
Volume 2
1995/96 – 2000/2001

*Note: In 2002, an assessment of the Strategic Plan development process was completed by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) for the Director, Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) in partial fulfillment of the task entitled “Assessment of DoD Education Activity Programs and Operations.

Blueprint for Continuous Improvement

Blueprint for Continuous Improvement - Vol III

Blueprint for Continuous Improvement - Vol III

The Blueprint for Continuous Improvement (Blueprint) is DoDEA’s strategic plan for school years 2018/19 through 2023/24. This document is the third annual update to DoDEA’s Blueprint for Continuous Improvement.
Blueprint for Continuous Improvement - Vol II

Blueprint for Continuous Improvement - Vol II

The Blueprint for Continuous Improvement is DoDEA’s strategic plan for 2018 through 2023. The title reflects the philosophy that drives DoDEA’s strategic direction. A blueprint is an actionable plan that communicates and guides the work of all involved in a project.
Blueprint for Continuous Improvement - Vol I

Blueprint for Continuous Improvement - Vol I

The Blueprint for Continuous Improvement (Blueprint) is DoDEA’s strategic plan for school years 2018/19 through 2023/24. A blueprint is an actionable plan that communicates and guides the work of

 


 

Digital copies for each past Community Strategic Plans since 1995 can be found here.

 


 

An Assessment of the DoDEA Community Strategic Plan 2001–2006 was completed by Richard K. Wright, September 2002.


 

Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations

A non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) is an operation conducted by the Department of Defense (DOD) to assist in evacuating US citizens and nationals, DOD civilian personnel and their families, and designated persons (host nation and third country nationals) whose lives are in danger from locations in a foreign nation to an appropriate safe haven, when directed by the Department of State (DOS). Within the Americas and the territories, evacuations for emergencies are directed by federal, state, county and DoD entities.

The evacuation of more than 20,000 U.S. service members and their families from Subic Bay Naval Base, Cubi Point Naval Air Station, and Clark Air Base after the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines has had the greatest impact on DoDEA operations in our 75 year history.

Families ordered to leave Turkey arriving in US

Families ordered to leave Turkey arriving in US

Dependents of military members from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, wait to disembark from a C-17 Globemaster III after landing at Baltimore Washington International Airport, Md., April 1, 2016. Defense Department dependents in Adana, Izmir and Mugla, Turkey,

Dependents of American servicemen depart Saigon in 1965

Dependents of American servicemen depart Saigon in 1965

Dependents of American servicemen depart Saigon, South Vietnam in 1965.

Year Month Location Reason Notes
2017 October Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria  
2016   Guantanamo Bay Hurricane Mathew to Naval AS Pensacola
2016 March Turkey; Izmir and Incirik Degrading security environment  
2015 September Adana, Turkey; Incirlik AB Elevated force protection level Voluntary departure authorization is limited in scope to the Adana area near Incirlik
2011   Japan Operation Pacific Passage 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
2011 March Bahrain Ongoing civil and political unrest. Voluntary departure dependents and nonemergency employees
2004   Bahrain Persian Gulf Tension  
2003   Turkey US Invasion of Iraq  
1994 August Guantanamo Bay Cuban Refugee Crisis  
1991   Philippines Eruption of Mount Pinatubo Operation Fiery Vigil: Clark Air Base and U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay
1989   Panama Operation Just Cause  
1967 June Libya, Wheelus AB Arab/Israeli (Six-day) War  
1965   South Vietnam American Involvement in S. Vietnam Saigon American School
1962 October Guantanamo Bay Cuban Missile Crisis  
1950 June Korea Hostilities on Korean Peninsula President Truman directs Gen MacArthur to evacuate American dependents

In Their Words

"I'm a product of DoDEA schools. The opportunities in the classroom and outside the classroom are just fantastic. To travel to other countries for Model Senate; to travel across Europe for sporting events; all of this is enriching of the educational experience and the educational experience itself is excellent.

Our DoDEA graduates go on to some the best colleges and programs in the country. What happens to our students who graduate from DoDEA schools is an example of how great those schools are."

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An image from DoDEA's In Their Words product line featuring General Christopher G. Cavoli.

General Christopher G. Cavoli
Commander, U.S. Army Europe and Africa
and graduate of Vicenza American High School

In Their words

In Their Words… is a series of quotations from teachers, administrators, military leaders and our partners that speak to the circumstances, determination and spirit that have better enabled our warriors and DoD civilians, past and present, to make lasting contributions to our nation's defense, and indeed the defense of freedom around the world.

Go to In Their Words Gallery


Dr. Robert Manring

Teacher, Leader, Champion for Equal Opportunity

Mission Champion

Dr. Robert (Bob) Manring, director of the Mediterranean Region served the overseas schools for over 32 years from 1959-1990. As a teacher, principals, curriculum leader, and regional director, he earned the admiration and respect of educators across Europe and the Pacific. During that time, Dr Manring was a significant catalyst and active participant in leading the system though incredible change, adversity, and programs.

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Mission Champions

Mission Champions helps to bring alive the stories of just a few of those champions whose individual actions advanced the team-work and momentum needed to provide quality educational services to the children who attend our schools, and their families, who sacrifice so much to serve our country. Each of these champions represent and preserve a legacy built by thousands of educators and support personnel committed to advancing the DoDEA mission.

Go to Mission Champions Gallery

The Consolidation and Unification years (1975-1994) were empowered by the resourcefulness, dedication, and focused optimism of the men and women who established and operated schools in the aftermath of World War II. As the world has changed dramatically, Service, Command, and school leaders refined the structure and operation of the DoD schools to better meet a growing and dynamic mission. The need for a civilian school system within the DoD became clear leading to a comprehensive pre-kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum that was competitive with that of any school system in the United States.

Historical event at the Berlin Wall.
The 1970s

In 1976, a Joint House-Senate Conference Committee Report informed the three military departments that the Department of Defense was taking over the operation of the military dependents' schools. A newly-established office in the Pentagon - the Office of Overseas Dependents Education - responsible to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs - took oversight of the schools.

In 1978 the Office of Overseas Dependents Education became the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS). The three geographic areas - Europe, Pacific, and Atlantic - were reconfigured into six geographic regions (Atlantic, Germany North, Germany South, Mediterranean, Panama and Pacific) with a regional director and several superintendents. In 1983, Germany North and Germany South were combined into a single Germany region.

1970: War in Vietnam Widens

1972 Martial law declared in the Philippines by President Ferdinand Marcos

1975: Saigon Falls

1977: Rise of the PC

1979: Islamic Republic Born in Iran

  • The Iran hostage crisis begins. 4 November
  • The Soviet–Afghan War begins. 24 December
The 1980s

Following the Cold War in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the number of DoDDS schools was reduced and combined with the U.S.-based Domestic Dependents Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) to form the Department of Defense Education Activity in 1992.

1980 Beginning of the Iran–Iraq War

1981 Iran releases the 52 U.S. hostages held in Tehran after 444 days

1983: The Internet is Born

  • Invasion of Grenada by the United States. October
  • The Beirut barracks bombing results in the deaths of 307 people, hastening the removal of international peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, 23 October

1985: Reagan, Gorbachev Meet

1986: Shuttle Tragedy

  • The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine kills about 100 people, 26 April

1988 End of the Iran–Iraq War, 20 August

1989: The Berlin Wall Falls

  • The Cold War ended
  • Columbine High School massacre
  • Genocide in Rwanda
  • End of the Soviet war in Afghanistan
  • A military coup attempt begins in the Philippines against the government of Philippine President Corazon C. Aquino, 1–9 December
  • The United States invasion of Panama begins, 20 December
The 1990s

In 1992 the DoDDS headquarters in Arlington, VA, became the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). The DoDEA Director assumed responsibility for organizing, managing, and directing the DoDEA headquarters, DoDDS, and DDESS. Today, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) provides education to approximately 67,000 eligible DoD military and civilian children in 160 schools.

1990 Gulf War begins

  • German reunification, 3 October

1991: The Gulf War ends in US withdrawal and a failed uprising, February

  • Mount Pinatubo erupts with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 6 and reduces global temperatures, 12 June
  • The Ten-Day War in Slovenia begins the Yugoslav Wars, 27 June–7 July
  • The Senate of the Philippines rejects the bilateral treaty with United States which would have extended American use of Subic Bay Naval Base, 13 September
  • Dissolution of the Soviet Union and independence of 15 former Soviet republics, 26 December

1992 The Maastricht Treaty creates the European Union

  • Cold War Ends
  • The Bosnian War begins, 6 April
  • After the end of its dictatorship, South Korea is admitted to the UN, 8 August

1993 World Trade Center bombing, 26 February


Witness to History

No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you'd like to witness history.

-Richard Sherman, Author

By virtual of their service in locations around the world, DoDEA employees and students have often had a front row seat to historic events around the world. Below a few of the incredible stories that students and their teachers have come back home to tell.

Thrust into a Hotbed of World Political Events

All of these things are happening, but you just take them in stride. You live it. You experience it. You talk about it. You have a job to do --- you have school to teach or whatever your particular job is. But you're seeing all this history unfold around you.

It's hard to explain… the opportunity to go overseas and just see life from a totally different perspective. Phenomenal."

-Patrick Kilkenny, DoDEA Educator

Eruption of Mt. Pinatubo Creates a “Whole New World”

It was the front edge of the big eruption that happened on that Saturday and we watched the cloud go over us, watched the sun disappear in the East because we were high above the bay and that's the last light we saw that day. The next morning we got up and it was a different world. It was all black and white or gray and white and the ash was everywhere. It had stripped off leaves from the trees and it was just like a whoa -- whole new world.”

-DoDEA Science teacher Michael Roylance

Dictator Manuel Noriega, Panama, and a “Bit of a Pickle”

So, that brings to mind the concept that DOD is family, and it's bigger than a job. The DoDEA family just supports one another, and that family continues. That original group that I worked with in the district office in Panama, we still get together every other year. We've been doing it for 20 years, and I am sure that there are many people in DoDEA that would tell you that same story.”

-Anne Muse, DoDEA Educator

An Orientation to Life Near the Demilitarized Zone, Korea

Those of us who have opted to teach abroad have usually arrived exuberantly at our destinations, and our ebullience (after having overcome shipboard lethargy or jet lag) has continued into our new assignments. There was undoubtedly a time, however, in our Korean experience, that our thoughts were sobered."

Read the full account.

Evacuation of Personnel from Clark Air Base and Navy Base Subic Bay

The following first-hand account was transcribed and edited from an audio interview conducted by Frank O’Gara with Linda Beaulieu, an ISS and the coordinator of the Teacher of the Year Program at DoDEA HQ.

A big surprise one day

Yeah, April 1, 1991 -- April Fool's Day, we got to school, when we got to the parking lot, we smelled rotten eggs. Somebody said, “there's a dormant volcano that is waking up over in the distance.” I remember at lunch that day in the faculty lounge saying, "Can you imagine the letters? Dear Mom, we're being evacuated because of a volcano!” news.

Read the full interview.

Individuals struck at the Berlin Wall, mirrored in a vehicle's side mirror.
Berlin - At the Crossroads of the Cold War

I stared in joyous disbelief at national television coverage in November 1989. Berliners smashed it [Berlin Wall] with sledge hammers, framing hammers, tire irons...anything they could to destroy that worn-out relic of injustice to humanity."

-Diana Green Kempton, AOSHS

Read the full story.

Treated like all of the rest

Melvin Gilmer recalls experiences as one of DoDEA’s first African American students

Read the full story.

First grade class photo from Okinawa University School in 1949.
Interested in More Online School Memories?

Many of our partner organizations publish stories and memories from former students and employees, including…

AOSHS Memories

AOSHS Memories

During and following the Cold War, Department of Defense school teachers, administrators, students, and their families have lived around the world on the “cutting edge” of history in the making―post World War II Europe, Japan and North Africa, the Berlin Wall going up and coming down, the DMZ in Korea, the Six-day War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Persian Gulf War, the Liberation of Panama, the bombing of American embassies in Africa, and now the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to mention only a few. AOSHS has created online School Memories written by these individuals ranging from 1946 to the present day.
Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center Launches Schooling with Uncle Sam

Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center Launches Schooling with Uncle Sam

Included on the site are: Military Family Stories; Operation Footlocker Podcasts; Passports and Pedagogy/Schooling with Uncle Sam Features; We Served Too; Access information to the Schooling with Uncle Sam anthology of nearly 100 first-hand stories and comments by former teachers and students with experience in the world-wide K-12 school system operated by the Department of Defense since the end of World War II for the children of U.S. military personnel.
Overseas Brats

Overseas Brats

Overseas Brats is an organization for those associated with American Overseas schools designed to serve the needs of thousands of "Overseas Brats. Overseas Brats has been making the dream become a reality since 1986 for those associated with overseas schools who are looking for former friends and classmates.
Brats Without Borders

Brats Without Borders

Since 1999, Brats Without Borders (a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1999) has been helping lead the effort to raise awareness of Military Brats and Third Culture Kids.  They provide educational outreach, support, materials, and research to enrich the lives of Military "Brats" and other "Third Culture Kids" of all ages.

In Their Words

“There is really only one story to tell about the Dependents Schools – from the first days, classroom teachers and school principals have worked long hours in tough situations against incredible requirements to create the school system that American military children needed and deserved.”

Download Quote Image
Dr. Allen Dale Olson

Dr. Allen Dale Olson
Former Educator and Historian
Author of "From DSS to DoDDS"

In Their words

In Their Words… is a series of quotations from teachers, administrators, military leaders and our partners that speak to the circumstances, determination and spirit that have better enabled our warriors and DoD civilians, past and present, to make lasting contributions to our nation's defense, and indeed the defense of freedom around the world.

Go to In Their Words Gallery


Dr. Arlyn Gordon Sweeney

Dr. Arlyn G. Sweeney

Mission Champion

A lifelong educator, instructional leader, and champion for students, she was passionate about her work in the classroom and as a senior leader at the district, region, and HQ levels of the school system. Born a person of color at a time where there was little diversity at the top, her dedication and hard work were an example for all and a particular source of inspiration and motivation to historically underrepresented educators and students. Her work ethic and success underscored the value of gender diversity in leadership positions.

Download Poster

Mission Champions

Mission Champions helps to bring alive the stories of just a few of those champions whose individual actions advanced the team-work and momentum needed to provide quality educational services to the children who attend our schools, and their families, who sacrifice so much to serve our country. Each of these champions represent and preserve a legacy built by thousands of educators and support personnel committed to advancing the DoDEA mission.

Go to Mission Champions Gallery

1946-1975

The early years encompass the first 3 decades of our operations in post-war Europe and the Pacific as well as domestic schools that were managed by installations and commands. It was marked by efforts to develop a consistent approach to the establishment, operation, and resourcing for schools serving military families, overseas and on installations in the USA.


DoDEA Schools' History

In the list of school openings for 1946, the Europe listing is more detailed than the Pacific because of the availability of documents from the Army. Records identified from the Pacific Army operations are limited. Not every school today has been in operation for the 75 year span of our organizational history; however, each school and office has played a pivotal role during their tenure in telling the DoDEA story. Some of our current locations/communities are enduring communities – having had one of the first school operations in 1946 (Yokota, Tokyo, Kubasaki, Guantanamo Bay, West Point, Stuttgart, Garmisch, Ansbach, and Wiesbaden).

One of DoDEA’s First African American Students

One of DoDEA’s First African American Students

Mr. Gilmer was one of two African American students to attend Okinawa American Dependents School in 1949, making him one of the first African American students to attend Department of Defense schools overseas.
History of the Dependents School Service (DSS) Germany

History of the Dependents School Service (DSS) Germany

The Dependents School Service was formally established on May 4, 1946.
Our First School Year

Our First School Year

While a few schools were operating on military bases within the continental United States and its territories, prior to World War II, the school system we know today as the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) formally began with the establishment of dependents schools in October 1946 in the occupied countries of Germany, Austria and Japan.
Parent Organizational Names Since 1946

Parent Organizational Names Since 1946

While DoDEA has had many names over the years and still has different names in our guiding legislation (DSS, USDESEA DoDDS, Section 6, DDESS), the school system today has, in fact, been a unified one since 1992 under one organization, DoDEA.

In Their Words

“The Army succeeded admirably in a task that transcended its military mission. It accepted the challenge of establishing in Europe a school system for its dependent children and created, virtually from nothing, a self-contained educational system that would meet the needs of over 30,000 children. The success achieved is to the credit of the service itself as well as to that of the dedicated men and women who established and maintained the system.”

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Image of the Dependents School Program of the U.S. Army, Europe, 1946 – 1956 program book.

The Dependents School Program of the U.S. Army, Europe, 1946 – 1956
for the U.S. Army Europe Historical Division (1958), Page 114

In Their words

In Their Words… is a series of quotations from teachers, administrators, military leaders and our partners that speak to the circumstances, determination and spirit that have better enabled our warriors and DoD civilians, past and present, to make lasting contributions to our nation's defense, and indeed the defense of freedom around the world.

Go to In Their Words Gallery


Photo of one Alexander (Al) Kyrios.

Alexander (Al) Kyrios

Mission Champion

Alexander (Al) Kyrios was born and educated in Massachusetts. His formative years in Lynn, MA and at Phillips Academy awakened his eagerness to pursue education for himself and "transfer" his knowledge to generations of both students and educators.

Download Poster

Mission Champions

Mission Champions helps to bring alive the stories of just a few of those champions whose individual actions advanced the team-work and momentum needed to provide quality educational services to the children who attend our schools, and their families, who sacrifice so much to serve our country. Each of these champions represent and preserve a legacy built by thousands of educators and support personnel committed to advancing the DoDEA mission.

Go to Mission Champions Gallery

Taking a deeper dive into DoDEA history

A lot has changed during the history of DoDEA. If you are looking to do a deeper dive into our history, we have compiled some research, resources and references for you.

DoDEA Research

DoDEA Research

DoDEA Research page provides information on the history, history preservation, resources, and more.
DoDEA's 75 Year History

DoDEA's 75 Year History

DoDEA's beginnings can be traced back to the end of World War II with the establishment of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS).
Principal Resources

Principal Resources

In the coming school year, we will celebrate 75 years. We’ll look back with gratitude on the remarkable men and women who made it their life’s work to care, educate, and empower more than 15 million military-connected children who have passed through our doors. The following resources will help you provide ongoing visibility for this celebration in your school community.

DoDEA Directors

DoDEA has a long and proud history of serving military families at locations around the globe. The 1946-47 school year also marked the first time that the federal government and the military realized that a more consistent approach was needed to the establishment, operation, and resources for schools serving military families, overseas and on installations in the USA. Schools were being operated separately by the Army, Navy, and Air Force in countries around the world and the operation and enrolment grew significantly with each passing year.

In 1976, Congress directed that the tri-service geographical management of schools be discontinued, and the total management of schools be vested in the Office of Overseas Dependents Education with a civilian director.

Mr. Thomas Brady (2014 - Present)

Mr. Thomas Brady (2014 - Present)

Prior to joining DoDEA, Mr. Brady was Superintendent of Providence, Rhode Island Public Schools.

Ms. Marilee Fitzgerald (2011 - 2013)

Ms. Marilee Fitzgerald (2011 - 2013)

Ms. Marilee Fitzgerald served as Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity from 2011 – 2013, having served as Acting Director of DoDEA since 2010.

Dr. Shirley Miles (2008  - 2010)

Dr. Shirley Miles (2008 - 2010)

Dr. Shirley Miles served as Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity from 2008 – 2010.

Dr. Joseph Tafoya (2000 - 2008)

Dr. Joseph Tafoya (2000 - 2008)

Dr. Joseph Tafoya served as Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity from 2000 – 2008.

Dr. Lillian Gonzalez (1994 - 1999)

Dr. Lillian Gonzalez (1994 - 1999)

Dr. Gonzalez was known as a leader with a demonstrated commitment to educational excellence for diverse student populations.

Dr. John Stremple (1987 - 1994)

Dr. John Stremple (1987 - 1994)

Dr. John Stremple served as Director of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools from 1987 – 1994

Dr. Beth Stephens (1982 - 1986)

Dr. Beth Stephens (1982 - 1986)

Dr. Beth Stephens served as Director of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools from 1982 – 1986

Dr. Anthony Cardinale (1976  - 1982)

Dr. Anthony Cardinale (1976 - 1982)

Dr. Anthony Cardinale was the first person to serve in the position of Director of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

Partners in Preserving Our History

American Overseas Schools Historical Society

American Overseas Schools Historical Society

The American Overseas Schools Historical Society is a non-profit organization that collects, records, preserves, and exhibits historical memorabilia of the American Overseas Schools
DoDDS Reunion XXXIV

DoDDS Reunion XXXIV

My DoDDS Reunion is a group of teachers, administrators, and support staff who taught in American schools all over the world. Their umbrella encompasses those who have retired from or are still working in the DoDEA system, formerly known as DoDDS.
Overseas Brats

Overseas Brats

Overseas Brats is an organization for those associated with American Overseas schools designed to serve the needs of thousands of "Overseas Brats. Overseas Brats has been making the dream become a reality since 1986 for those associated with overseas schools who are looking for former friends and classmates.
The Museum of the American Military Family

The Museum of the American Military Family

Incorporated as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, the Museum of the American Military Family is the only one of its kind in the United States. It is the only Museum dedicated to celebrating the contributions of America’s military families.

Disclaimer

The citation of publications, organizations and/or the appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) of non-U.S. Government sites or the information, products, or services contained therein. Although DoDEA may or may not use these sites as additional distribution channels for Department of Defense information, it does not exercise editorial control over all the information that you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this website.