Kristi Jarvis, Principal of Ashton Elementary School and Chair of the Sarasota County Schools Attendance Task Force, and Beth Duda, Director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading were recent panelists during the 2017 Educational Strategies and Student Engagement Institute (ESSEI) in Orlando, FL. ESSEI is a collaboration of school districts, agencies, and organizations with a desire to provide and share resources and capacity-building strategies to better educate and serve Florida’s student population.
An array of stakeholder groups from areas including exceptional student education, juvenile justice, dropout prevention, federal programs for at-risk student populations, attendance and truancy, social work, volunteer programs, higher education, faith and community-based, and family engagement participated in ESSEI.
Kristi Jarvis and Beth Duda were panelists in a session focusing on district and school strategies to address chronic absenteeism and attendance. The session provided information on chronic absenteeism from both a national and state perspective and was moderated by Amber Brundage, Research & Evaluation Coordinator of the Florida Problem Solving and Response to Intervention Project at the University of South Florida. Other panelists included Mike Henriquez, Adult Education Coordinator for Monroe County Schools; Lisa Kern, Supervisor of Student Support Services for Pasco County Schools; Dave Chamberlin, Supervisor of Student Support Services for Pasco County Schools; Pam Brown, Instructional Coach for Putnam County Schools; Jonathan Hinke, School Improvement Specialist and Turnaround Lead for Putnam County Schools; Donna Sicilian, Executive Director of Student Services at Pinellas County Schools; and Kari Cappiello, a core teacher for Volusia County Schools.
Kristi Jarvis and Beth Duda provided information on the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Attendance Awareness Poster Contest, new approaches recommended by the Sarasota County Schools Attendance Task Force, and demonstrate the new Attendance Dashboard accessible through the school district’s website.
There were many interesting strategies for reducing chronic absenteeism shared during the session. Mike Hernriquez presented information about physician’s assistants in residence in schools throughout the Florida Keys providing healthcare to students, staff, and families. Kari Cappiello demonstrated a text messaging service Volusia County is using to reach chronically absent teens, Lisa Kern and Dave Chamberlin spoke about the importance of having registered nurses in every school, and Donna Sicilian made a convincing case for collecting accurate data on why children are missing school. Currently, Pinellas County uses 23 different codes for each absence, making it easier for schools, and the district, to identify issues that need to be addressed.