It’s already September and despite some of the obstacles this school year has already tossed our way, staff, students and families continue to march ahead. I’d like to commend those of you who are dealing with these challenges on a personal level — from Hurricane Lane recovery to rebuilding after the brush fires — for continuing to put students first. I am inspired by your grit, compassion and dedication to your communities.
For many of our students, these extreme challenges have made it difficult to come to school consistently. But we still have an opportunity to steer them back on track for the rest of the school year.
As role models, it is our responsibility to set a good example. We need to be present for our students so that we’re able to notice such issues as chronic absenteeism, and address them before they become a bigger problem.
September is Attendance Awareness Month and we all know that attendance has a huge impact on students’ academic success. Students who are chronically absent, those missing 15 or more days in a school year, miss out on meaningful academic growth.
The Department has a statewide target to reduce the number of students chronically absent to 9 percent by 2020. The most recent data show we’re at 15 percent.
Many of our students recognize the value of being in school — on time, every day. Here are some of their thoughts:
“Attendance is important because learning is important. When I come to school every day, my brain gets bigger.” - Robby, grade 6, Benjamin Parker Elementary
“Not everyone gets to come to school. It's a privilege and everyone should appreciate it." - Annabel, grade 5, Kapunahala Elementary
“U‘uku ka hana, u‘uku ka loa‘a. If you do not apply yourself or put effort into anything, you will not receive anything in return.” - Cetan, grade 6, Pū‘ōhala Elementary
"Coming to school helps you with relationships. Getting along with others. It sets you up for the real world.” - London, grade 6, Ahuimanu Elementary
“When you miss school, you miss out on important things like learning. I look forward to seeing my teachers and friends every day. Being on time is important. You get to find out what the schedule is for the day.” - Jenna, grade 5, Kāne‘ohe Elementary
Schools statewide will be raising awareness this month through a variety of activities including sign waving, an art display at Windward Mall, classroom lessons and social media campaigns. For more information about the nationwide effort and resources, click here.
In my opening school year letter, I encouraged families to build a habit and culture of attendance and to recognize the importance of students being designers of their own future. Let’s do our part as educators to ensure students take advantage of every learning opportunity and enjoy their educational experience.