03/16/07 — School/base liaison appointed

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School/base liaison appointed

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 16, 2007 1:50 PM

Robert Freeman just may have been unwittingly groomed for the job he now holds as liaison between Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the school system.

Stationed in Goldsboro, he retired in 1993 after 21 years in the military. He was hired to teach Air Force ROTC at Tarboro High School. Two years later, he got a job in the same capacity at Eastern Wayne High School, where he worked for seven years.

In 2002, he acquired his master's degree from East Carolina University in 2002. Wayne County Public Schools gave him a succession of jobs as assistant principal, first at Carver Elementary School in Mount Olive, where he worked for a year. He was at Carver Heights Elementary for one year and then was moved to Greenwood Middle, where he worked for more than two years.

He was happy being groomed for the role of principal, he said. That is, until Nancy Mayo, former schools liaison, announced she was retiring from the position last month.

"When I found out that this position was coming open, it sounded like a job that I would really like to do with my military background and also my educational background," Freeman said. "The job really sounded like me."

Others thought so, too, hiring him to take the reins earlier this month.

Freeman's familiarity with the military as well as the area were advantageous, he said.

"I've kind of gone all around the schools in Mount Olive and Goldsboro, worked with the school board and parents, as well as the central office," he said. "I know how the school system functions."

He believes such understanding will help him in building a bridge with the local base.

"I definitely see this as a critical role to help the military dependents' children, to support the family," he said.

His duties will include working very closely with the family advocacy office at the base, as well as the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. He will also be manager of the Family Place, where many groups meet on the base, and executive director of the Community Action Information Board, comprised of an array of organizations on the base.

One of his first goals is to visit all the schools, re-introducing himself in his new role as one of their advocates.

"I will be talking with the principals and assistant principals, attending their meetings," he said. "I also want to get to know social workers and guidance counselors, to let them see me in this capacity and let them know I want to work with them, and those here on the base as well."

It's got to be a team effort, Freeman said. And he looks forward to being part of that team.

Whether it be hearing from families moving to the area or parents making arrangements to locate the school their child will attend, Freeman said he appreciates being of service.

"I do love helping people," he said. "It makes it easier with a move to have somebody like me to call and ask questions."

At age 53, helping is not a foreign concept to Freeman. He and his wife, Robin, are ordained ministers. He is associate pastor at Ebeneezer Missionary Baptist Church in LaGrange. She is pastor at Higher Ground Ministry in Goldsboro.

The couple have two children. Rovonda Freeman, a health educator with the Health Department, is also ordained. Their other child, Robert Freeman Jr., a first lieutenant in the Army, is a Bronze Star recipient stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.

In their "spare time," Freeman and his wife also help at a day care center their son owns in Goldsboro.

Citing Freeman's "unique experience and qualifications," his supervisor in the base office, Stewart Cox, Fourth Mission Group deputy commander, said Seymour Johnson is fortunate to have the school liaison officer.

"Robert has seen the issues facing our military families and schools from both sides," he said. "He will be a most valuable asset as we work in partnership with school officials to benefit our military children and families."