DoDEA Celebrates 75 Years of Excellence

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 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

Coming Soon

21st Century

1994-2021

April – June 2022

Coming Soon

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.

DoDEA's Early Years

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.


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.”

Download Quote Image
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 Dr. Allen Dale “Ole” Olson.

Dr. Allen Dale “Ole” Olson
Veteran, Educator, Author, and Historian

Mission Champion

Since his first day as a newly recruited teacher in 1957 at Izmir High School (Turkey), Dr. Allen Dale “Ole” Olson has been a powerful voice in preserving the history and telling the story of the Dependents Schools. His determination over the six decades to share our story has been a gift to the school system, the Department of Defense, and indeed the Nation.

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


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.

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.