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.

Early Years

1946-1975

October – December 2021

Consolidation

1975-1994

January – March 2022

21st Century

1994-2021

April – June 2022

Coming Soon

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.

The timeline below highlights key events in our history. You can read more about our history from the early days of the western frontier to our current day 21st century 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.
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.

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).

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

“.…Established that dependent children had to attend dependent schools established by the service designated to provide supportive functions to the installation…”

Download Quote Image
Photo of General Dwight David Eisenhower in military vehicle.

General Dwight David Eisenhower
March 25, 1947

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 Dr. Joseph A. (Doc) Mason.

Dr. Joseph A. (Doc) Mason
August 1914 - March 1979
Director of the United States Dependents Schools, 
European Area (USDESEA) 

Mission Champion

Doc’s guiding philosophy was to encourage each school to develop its own personality and for school administrators to “nourish creativity in their teaching staffs.”

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

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.

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.

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.

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.