Summer 2016 was a busy one, full of meaningful projects and work with schools and the Baltimore City Public Schools district. Here's a snapshot of what we've been working on:
The biggest development for the fall is an amazing opportunity that came out of this summer work. I will be working contractually as an Engagement Specialist with Baltimore City Public Schools to support the family and community engagement supports for 21 state-identified Priority Schools. I am honored for the opportunity and eager to hit the ground running!
I am so grateful for the support, referrals, and guidance I have received as I have launched my business. Thank you to all who have contributed.
The DC Data Summit (www.dcdatasummit.org) on July 14 was a powerful day of learning, networking, sharing, and bonding with fellow data nerds! Structured Solutions presented on how to use data to create a culture of care among the chronically absent student population. The 25 attendees brought great insight and enthusiasm. Check out our events page for the presentation documents. Thanks to all who attended and to those who shared their own insights that day!
What a great six months it has been! I am so thankful for every person who has provided support, encouragement, advice, and referrals as my business got off the ground.
To celebrate, we have done a BIG website makeover! Take a look around and let us know what you think.
Albuquerque was incredible, and the conference was a great collection of dedicated community schools people! Thanks to all who came to our session about chronic absenteeism and using data to address it. It was an engaging and exciting roundtable conversation. Check out our events page to view the PowerPoint!
As a community school coordinator in Baltimore City, it was a primary responsibility to track attendance and facilitate interventions for students with troubling numbers of absences. Often, figuring out why students were missing school was like solving a puzzle. Had we not been religiously tracking data to see the patterns in each student's attendance record, some of their periods of absenteeism and related needs would have gone unnoticed in our school's daily attendance statistics.
Some cases were easy to understand, even if they were hard to stomach... a child's relative was gunned down in the neighborhood and the family wanted to be together ... a parent's car broke down, so they couldn't get their son to school ... a family was evicted and was staying with relatives across town ... For many of those cases, we could support the families by arranging transportation or referring them to local service providers. Usually, the children ended up back in school soon after.
Others seemingly had no explanation for why their children were missing so many days of school. Figuring out the story behind one particular little girl became my mission. She missed an unthinkable 68 days in Pre-Kindergarten, and her mom was not very easy to get a hold of. By halfway through Kindergarten, when she already exceeded the criteria for chronic absence, I waited for her mom every day at dismissal. When I finally got to sit down with her, our conversation would be a turning point for my approach to attendance and family engagement.
What was so monumental? I gave her mom a simple compliment, and that turned things around. I told her that her daughter was always beautifully dressed and that her hair was always adorable, so I knew how much she cared for her daughter. She was shocked that I would compliment her parenting. She began to cry and told me about her current situation. We were able to arrange some supports for them to help get her super sweet girl to school.
Things weren't always smooth sailing for them after that, and her mom was still hard to reach. But this little girl went from missing over one-third of her Pre-K year to missing fewer than 10 days by the first half of 1st grade.
To me, she is a true success story for genuine, asset-based approaches to family engagement. Instead of focusing on what parents aren't doing, a simple comment about the great things they are doing can be very powerful. And of course, the conversation wouldn't have even been possible without the data pointing us in the right direction.
STRUCTURED SOLUTIONS wants to help your school have its own success stories. For Baltimore City Schools principals, we are an approved vendor on K-12 Buy! For principals anywhere else, I would love to talk to you.
Attention: School Leaders!
STRUCTURED SOLUTIONS now has packaged deals for your school's needs. You can choose from a simple consultation to a full-fledged needs assessment with coaching, whatever you feel is best to make your school's attendance and family engagement interventions soar. Check out the flyer below and contact us for more information!
STRUCTURED SOLUTIONS will be presenting at an attendance roundtable at the Coalition for Community Schools' National Forum in New Mexico in April 2016. More information to come!
STRUCTURED SOLUTIONS made its official launch as an independent consulting practice in Fall 2015! Take a look at our other pages to learn more and contact us for potential opportunities to work together.
The goal of this blog is to highlight relevant issues that impact students, families, and communities and spark engaging discussions about how to address those issues.