McKinley’s Attendance Committee is working hard to keep kids in class.
“We are still closely monitoring our students’ absent list to see if a student has been absent two days or more. If so, we start reaching out to the parent immediately. We contact the parent to see if we can help,” explained staff member Clara Jackson. “We’re always trying to encourage our parents in every possible way that we can. We hope the parent will see how important it is for the child to be at school.”
The committee, which is comprised of administrators, teachers, office staff, and others, meets every three weeks to brainstorm incentives and address concerns. They are a team of problem-solvers who are more than willing to go the extra mile to help their students.
“We have resources here. We have a shower. We have washer/dryer. We have toothbrushes and toothpaste. We comb hair. We wash. We sew. We have clothes, shoes, socks, underwear. You name it, we do it. We make it happen because we want kids to feel comfortable,” said school counselor Niani Ware.
Niani said the McKinley community is a family, and it is important to make students feel like they belong. She said they encourage their teachers to welcome rather than criticize when a student comes into class late. When they are absent, tell them they were missed while they were gone and make sure everything is okay.
“Any of us who form a relationship with those kids are responsible for contacting those kids' families and just say, 'Hey, how are you? Everything okay?’ Just forming a relationship with that family to see what's going on so people know they have someone to talk to,” she said.
She said it is not about pointing fingers, but rather keeping the lines of communication open. They also teach kids that they can help their parents get them to school on time each day.
“We teach them over and over and over to prepare. It's your responsibility. You have power. There are tools you have. It's doesn't matter how old they are even if they are kindergarten there are things they can do. You can help gets your clothes ready at night. You can get cleaned up with soap and water,” said Niani.
Kids that do make it to school on a regular basis are rewarded with a special treat at the end of the month.
“It's important because every minute counts. Our day is already short, and the kids need every single minute to learn,” she said.
For more information about the importance of attendance, as well as tips for families, please visit the Attendance Matters page.