By Ukee Washington
FORT DIX, NJ (CBS) — Terry Dougherty is a hero to the troops and their children. The South Jersey teacher has gathered a small army of volunteers to help military children do well in school.
Ten-year-old Kelsie Griffith is starting at her third school in two years. That’s part of being a child of a military dad.
“We have been stationed all over the world,” says Christina Griffith, Kelsie’s mother. “We’ve been to Fort Stuart, Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Wainwright, Alaska; now Fort Dix, New Jersey.”
Kelsie’s dad, an Army sergeant first class, has left for overseas deployments several times.
“Military kids are heroes, too. They sacrifice as much as the parents do,” says teacher Terry Dougherty, who knows firsthand. Her husband spent 30 years on active duty with the Coast Guard, and she often had military kids in her classroom.
“They needed a little bit of brushing up before they started school in New Jersey, just to familiarize them with the curriculum,” Dougherty explains, “and we decided we would start this free military child tutoring program.”
Four years later, it’s going strong. This looks like a typical classroom, but it’s really a room at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway Township. The tutors are volunteers, and the summer sessions are all free.
Barbara Skierski’s son and daughter are here. “When they’re struggling in school a little bit during deployments, this kind of gives them a little boost,” Skierski said.
Terry Dougherty estimates she’s helped at least 60 students so far. She has won national awards and was even invited to visit the White House, but her focus is always on the children.
“You don’t find a whole lot of people that have been through what you’re going through. She understands. She gets it,” says Barbara Skierski.
If you’d like to help Terry Dougherty by donating funds for supplies for next summer’s session, visit: www.freemilitarychildtutoring.org