Our Perspective - October 2012
A periodic message from Community Foundation Board Chair, Phyllis Kindelan, and President, Jim Williamson.
How to Keep Our Kids in School
By Phyllis Kindelan, CFGNB Board Chair
As a proud mother of three grown children — one who is attending Elon University, two who have graduated and are beginning their careers — I know first hand that while motivating my kids to be in school every day was not always easy, it was also one of my biggest responsibilities.
That’s why, as board chair of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, I applaud Consolidated School District of New Britain Superintendent Kelt Cooper for taking a strong stand on high absenteeism in our schools. The steps he's laid out to fix the problem in a recent op-ed in The Herald are doable, practical, and already underway.
However, one person can’t erase the problem. To instill the importance of attending school in my children, I had help from my spouse, other family members, friends and neighbors. Within the Greater New Britain community, today we have a collective responsibility to ensure that our kids stay in school and that they’re getting the best education possible.
So what can you do?
Parents: The buck stops with you.
Talk to your children about why going to school matters for success. Make sure they don’t miss too much school – ideally less than 9 days over the whole year! Set good bedtime and morning routines. Talk with their teachers to make sure your kids are engaged and feel comfortable at school. Draw support from other parents for carpools or walking kids to school.
Residents: Even if you don't have school-age kids, this affects you.
Volunteer to help improve attendance in our schools. Mentor a chronically absent student. Create a safe walking route through your neighborhood. Talk about the issue to friends, family, with owners of the businesses you frequent.
Business owners: Help schools develop incentives for rewarding good attendance.
Think healthy snacks for the class with the best attendance, or gift certificates and bigger prizes for raffles. Make sure your employees who have kids know about why going to school, starting in the early grades, is so important. Don't look the other way. If a young person is buying at your store when they should be in school, ask them why they're not in class.
By establishing a First Years First grant fund, and through our support of the New Britain Early Childhood Collaborative and Chronic Absenteeism Initiative, the Foundation is committed to working with the region’s school districts and communities to improve school attendance. We welcome your ideas and support in our efforts to give all our kids the opportunity to realize their potential.