DMS awarded for going 'above and beyond' for military staff

"It’s really nice to see this kind of support for the military and the patriotism that’s basically infused throughout the student and the staff community," said Richard Brauhn, regional director for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

Dr. Marcus Lewton, principal of Dickinson Middle School, accepted the Above and Beyond award on behalf of the school, via Zoom.

Dickinson Middle School was awarded the Above and Beyond award for its support of its National Guardsmen and National Reserve employees.

"As a matter of fact, I really believe that the support for the military and the support for the guards and reserve employees of the middle school is really an atmosphere that pervades the school and is recognized by students and staff alike," said Richard Brauhn, regional director for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the organization that presented the award.

The school was presented with the Patriot Award in 2019 in recognition of the school's commitment to its service member employees, Scott Obrigewitch and Levi Long.

"The award presentation also made possible the nomination of the middle school for the next award, which is the Above and Beyond Award," Brauhn said. " There are certain questions that need to be filled out and certain requirements that need to be met (for this award)."

One of those requirements is financial support.


"According to Dr. Lewton, and I know this to be true, the district pays retirement while guardsmen are absent, and they maintain their seniority," Brauhn said. "I n every case of extended absence of guards, the school has hired long-term substitutes, which is quite a financial commitment on the part of the school because the district pays not only the substitute but the guardsman’s regular pay."

The staff in the school are helpful to the guardsmen's family while they are away as well.

"The staff have taken it upon themselves to assist with the guardsmen’s family for childcare and by transporting children to activities, etc. etc. As a matter of fact, even school counselors have taken that guardsmen’s children under their wing and made sure that they were given some special tender loving care when their fathers were away," Brauhn said.

Lewton said the sacrifices of the guardsmen were more than the sacrifices the school has had to made while they were away.

"The sacrifices that Scott and Levi and their families is probably way more than any sacrifice I've had to make or even the teacher's have had to make for them, so we're happy to be supportive of the guards here," he said.

Obrigewitch was gone for training for a year.

"My daughter was a 7th grader, and I knew that was hard on her to be in a new school. The staff did pay extra attention to her as well as the counselor and the administrator. Like Dr. Lewton said, it is a sacrifice for us but we surely appreciate any assistance we get," he said.

Lewton gave credit to the staff, saying they earned the award.


"When I accept it, it's on behalf of staff and faculty because I get to approve things and try and move things around, but to be honest, it's the fellow teachers that are covering rooms and coming up with lesson plans and calling Scott and texting him and meeting after school with him and on weekends. That's a heck of a lot more work than I put in," he said.

The school also shows its respect to the military and its service member employees in assemblies.

"At Dickinson Public Schools, they formally celebrate and pay homage to the individual and families who are members of the guard or reserves on their Constitution Day ceremony and their Veteran’s Day ceremony which are generally very large assemblies with all of the students in attendance," Brauhn said.

The ESGR was started in 1972 and is part of the U.S. Department of Defense. It helps protect service members under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which protects the employment rights of service members who must be voluntarily or involuntarily absent from their civilian employment positions to serve in the U.S. military.

Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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