November 4, 2016 Combating Chronic Absenteeism with Creativity
Incredible things happen through art. Creativity facilitates abstract thought and connects ideas together to formulate innovative change. Our community has taken a step toward creating a culture where not only creativity is welcome, but encouraged and integrated within educational programs.
School is one of the most important environments where children develop both language skills and interpersonal skills. When a child is absent from school, they are left at a disadvantage. When a child is chronically absent, they aren’t just left at a disadvantage, they are left behind. Unfortunately, chronic absenteeism in our region is not an unfamiliar issue. In 2015–2016, 13.1% of the students in the School District of Manatee County and 6.8% of students from Sarasota County Schools were absent 21 days or more, meaning they were chronically absent. In hopes to combat chronic absenteeism, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading partnered with both school districts and implemented an Attendance Awareness Poster Contest with support from The Patterson Foundation. The region-wide contest engaged students in creative expression while simultaneously spreading awareness that Every Day Counts.
Makayla, 5th-grade poster winner from Daughtrey Elementary, tapped into her creativity. Her slogan, “Go to school today, be a hero tomorrow” is ingenious. Combining previous understandings from last year’s superhero-themed week, she developed an imaginative slogan and concept into her 2016 attendance awareness poster.
Ingenuity, creativity, quality, and attendance are crucial for a child’s development. Daughtrey Preparatory School of Arts and Sciences, located in Manatee County, participated in the poster awareness contest this year. When talking to Mrs. Jan Alvarez, the Graduation Enhancement Technician, there was an overwhelming feeling of awe. How she described her students’ engagement in the entire process was incredible. Students were so engaged in this creative contest they would start chanting “Every Day Counts” repeatedly every time Mrs. Alvarez was present. When I heard this, I felt dazzled. It is inspiring to hear about the excitement and interaction that develops around absenteeism awareness.
Through collaboration, SCGLR is engaging with people, business, media, nonprofits, and government to develop a culture where parents, teachers, and administrators are inspired and students are engaged in learning.
Attendance Awareness is such an important challenge that we must overcome. Our children’s academic achievement and future success are contingent on the skills they learn now. School attendance is so important because if they are not learning in school, where are they learning? Remember: Every Day Counts.