Altus native takes on new position as school liaison officer

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

After 13 years as an educator in the Altus, Oklahoma, community, Gwendolyn Brakebill, stepped into a new role as the 97th Force Support Squadron school liaison program manager at Altus Air Force Base in May 2023.

Brakebill’s new position allows her to connect teachers from 10 different districts with military parents, and ensure their children’s transition goes smoothly and their education needs are being met.

Having grown up in the Southwest Oklahoma community since 1999, Brakebill considers herself a native both on and off base, ever since her father’s military career brought her family to the area more than 30 years ago.

When speaking about the job change, Brakebill nodded her head with excitement but added a cautious smile.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” she said. “What I’ve liked most about the job so far is the opportunity to see the military side of things. Having worked at Rivers, I already know the education aspect of the job. It’s the military aspect that has been a different experience.”

With her background as a military child, it’s important to Brakebill to ensure that children of service members have a comfortable transition into their new education environment.

“I do feel like I have a unique perspective,” said Brakebill. “I understand what it’s like to be the new person and have to acclimate to new people. I understand how hard it is to move to a new place and try to catch up because learning standards are different from state to state. Those challenges are unique to military students.”

After working as a teacher for more than a decade, Brakebill says she has a better understanding of what parents and children need: from information about pick-ups and drop-offs to how they can get their children an individual education plan.

Brakebill’s deep ties to the community have also helped her feel more at ease while sitting behind her new desk. She already knows many of the teachers and administrators from several local schools, including Western Oklahoma State College. If she did not personally teach their children, then she was likely their student.

Armed with a rich background in education and deep roots in the community, Brakebill says she feels prepared to help the students and parents find easier transitions coming to and leaving Altus AFB.

“My job is to make sure that their transition here is smooth and that I'm able to answer any questions they have so they don't have to suffer in silence,” said Brakebill. “I also want to ensure that their transition going out is smooth so I can help connect them to their new school liaison program manager in their gaining installation. I just want to make sure parents know they can take advantage of the services that I can provide.”