| Coordinator of Instructional Technology for Clovis Municipal Schools, Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy writes an education column, published weekly by the Eastern New Mexico News and featured on www.clovis-schools.org.
JUST SHOW UP!
by Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy
January 26, 2017
School truancy is not a new problem. Truancy is, in fact, not only a concern throughout the US, but also in other countries. A recent article in the UK’s The Guardian by education historian, Nicola Sheldon, could be describing schools across America: “Why is it so difficult to reduce truancy in schools?...A small proportion of students accounts for a significant amount of absence…Many local initiatives have been tried. After fines, court summonses, truancy sweeps, behavior and attendance consultants, what can be done which hasn’t already been tried?” https://www.theguardian.com/education/2009/feb/26/history-tackling-truancy
There are – and have always been – compulsory school attendance laws on the books, but enforcement remains a challenge, less of a priority, of course, than criminal activity. Changes in educational methodologies have helped, with teachers incorporating a wide range of creative and innovative strategies for better engaging students. However, the number one school-attendance-enforcers are parents. Until education is highly valued by all parents, school truancy will be with us.
As educators, we continually seek solutions for this problem. One solution that’s shown great success is our truancy program in place since last year, thanks to a grant through The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) at our three middle schools. Facilitated by Student Success Coaches, Val McCamish, Stephanie Parker, and Joseph Williams, the program has gained momentum through their efforts in working with their caseloads of students and families, as well as their creative activities in tying in community members and businesses.
Their program is too all-encompassing to describe in detail, but worth highlighting is the most recent event that took place at Yucca Middle School. With the theme of “Just Show Up!” the Attendance Assembly not only showcased students with perfect monthly attendance, but those who’ve shown improvement.
The gym was bursting with excitement during the Assembly, spurred on by staff and an enthusiastic John Snowberger (McDonald’s), who generously donated many of the incentives and prizes. Other locals who have graciously supported this program are Tom Martin, the Lions Club, Clovis High School, Roller World, Pizza Hut and others.
Our three Student Success Coaches work closely together and recently attended a statewide training with the NM PED. A strong indicator of the success of the program was when, subsequent to the training, the Albuquerque Public Schools invited our folks to come present what they’re doing in Clovis, impressed with our program.
Well done, all who have been involved with this, and heartfelt gratitude to our wonderful community members.