Eyes and Ears on Yokosuka Schools
Yokosuka Navy Base, Japan During the month of January, 2016, Sailors from United States Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka Directorate of Public Health visited The Sullivans School, Ikego Elementary School and Yokosuka Middle School, on board Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) to perform vision and hearing screening tests on many of the students. The annual visits are welcomed by the school and the community and the visits support a key element in the Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) Community Strategic Plan, highest student achievement.
According to Commander Brian C. Hatch, Director, Health Care Business, USNH Yokosuka, "Vision and hearing screenings do not replace comprehensive evaluation, but are very efficient and cost-effective methods to help identify children with visual and auditory impairments. These screenings have become annual evolutions here at Yokosuka’s Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) which is comprised of some of the most diverse and populous schools in the DoDEA enterprise. In order to effectively screen such a large student population Naval Hospital Yokosuka Audiology and Optometry departments team efforts with the Schools’ Nursing staff. School nurses at the middle and elementary schools utilize a year-round screening program which is augmented by the Naval Hospital staff to target the most vulnerable populations. During a six-day period 870 students were screened at the Ikego and Sullivans Elementary Schools and the Yokosuka Middle School this academic year. Very few students are found to have hearing deficiencies that were not previously identified, however, 15-17% of screened students fail the vision screening due to the dynamic changes their eyes undergo during developmental years. The vision screening results are then cross-walked with a medical record review which typically yields a 10-12% referral rate for the students who are encouraged to receive a comprehensive vision exam. 80% of the learning process for a child is achieved through their vision making consistent monitoring and screening an important part of a child’s healthcare experience in addition to periodic routine vision and hearing examinations."
Sullivans School Nurse, Shawn Bogen, who coordinated the visit with the Directorate, told this story of why she helps arrange the visits year after year, "There was one student I will never forget, he got glasses for the first time from a screening visit and his mom told me later about his reaction when he discovered that trees had leaves. She told me that he just stood staring up at the trees for the longest time."
Lieutenant Alaina Simmons, USNH Yokosuka Audiologist, and one of the sailors who visited the school, stated, "Audiology and vision screening tests are essential for ensuring communication needs and academic excellence are achieved.
Finally, a message for the USNH Directorate of Public Health from the students, teachers and nurses of the Yokosuka complex of schools, "Thank you for your time, your energy and your commitment to our students and our community."
The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, Dodd schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America's heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific's 48schools serve nearly 23,000 military-connected children of U.S. Service members and civilian support personnel stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,000 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea. The schools in the Yokosuka Complex of Schools attached to CFAY include Nile C. Kinnick High School, Yokosuka Middle School, The Sullivans School and Ikego Elementary School.