OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
One of the most stressful times for a military member and their family is when they are transitioning to a new base.
Where will we live?
Is there anything to do in the local area?
Are the schools helpful to military children?
Thankfully, here at Offutt there’s a school liaison program manager whose mission it is to help with that last question.
“As the school liaison, I partner with local, state-level educators and other policymakers. These partnerships impact quality Pre-K through 12th-grade educations and allow for tailored support to families, commanders, and total force families in meeting the challenging demands of the military lifestyle,” said Liane Yanikov, 55th Force Support Squadron school liaison program manager.
In this role, Yanikov helps more than 5,000 students who are tied to one of the more than 50 units that call Offutt Air Force Base home.
“I work with multiple districts and schools in a variety of ways from attending school board meetings, to participating in career days, Month of the Military Child activities and reading volunteers,” she said. “If the schools reach out for specific requests, I will always try to find something to help accommodate their requests if we are able to.”
Yanikov is a military spouse of 18 years and has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, which makes her uniquely fit for her role as school liaison program manager.
“Every base I have lived at, I taught at,” she said.
Upon arriving here, Yanikov saw the job posting and realized this was an opportunity to use her experience to help others who are going through that same stressful time that she and her family went through upon moving to a new base.
She started as the school liaison program manager in December 2021 and over the past 15 months she’s come to really appreciate the broad support the Offutt community receives from the many local school districts surrounding the installation.
“We have a very good relationship with multiple districts, including Bellevue Public Schools and Papillion La Vista Community Schools, who have our highest military connected student population,” Yanikov said.
BPS is home to more than 2,000 students with ties to Offutt, and believe the relationship between the schools and the base is very important.
“The Offutt school liaison has traditionally been a partner and relationship builder with BPS working directly with the district and school administration to ensure military families are connected with the best resources and point of contact specific to their needs,” said Amanda Oliver, BPS communications director. “The relationship with the school liaison allows a direct line of communication for the school district and Offutt, and positive support for the military families being served in our schools.”
And as the Omaha Metro continues to push its way out west, so do more Offutt families.
“I have begun to work more with Millard Public Schools,” Yanikov said. “I work with all districts.”
This even includes students whose family aren’t tied directly to Offutt.
“I cover everyone to include public, private, parochial and homeschool students,” Yanikov said. “Some families call asking if I still help because they live in a district further away. This does not matter, if they are military connected, I am still able to assist.”
As always, readiness is a hot topic among those at Team Offutt, so Yanikov is working with the Military & Family Readiness Center to help families be proactive as opposed to reactive when it comes to deployments or a permanent move.
“Sometimes schooling gets overlooked until something happens in school,” she said. “My goal is to have families be proactive, prepared, ready for school and any issues that could arise.”
She said she encourages everyone to contact her to help with questions or concerns about school so things can be resolved as quickly as possible.
“This helps the servicemember refocus on their job and be ready for their mission,” Yanikov said. “I encourage everyone to remember the school liaison because even if they do not have dependents, the person working alongside of them does.”
The lesson here is that there are no wrong questions for the school liaison program when it comes to the health and well-being of a military student.
“Through educational advocacy, outreach and partnerships, the school liaison program provides military-connected children the opportunity to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, regardless of duty station, deployments, or transition status,” Yanikov said.
For more information on the program or if you need support for your student, please contact Yanikov at (402) 232-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.