It’s back-to-school time. The first day of the 2015-16 school year begins for APS students on Wednesday, Aug. 5. I love this time of year. With only one day until the start of the new school year, I can hardly contain my excitement.
For me, it’s a time of renewal, full of hope for a great new year. As a kid, back-to-school was a time to go shopping and pick out new clothes and school supplies; an opportunity to make new friends and recommit to doing well in school. I’m not so sure it was as much fun however for my parents who had to buy clothing and supplies for four girls. So, I can imagine how difficult it is for some of our families to carve out a little extra money from the family budget to get students prepared to go back to school equipped with all the supplies students need to be successful. I know every little bit helps—and thanks to the State of Georgia, families got a little financial relief in the form of tax-free days this past Friday and Saturday.
While tax-free days are an opportunity to do some back to-school shopping, more on that in a minute, it’s also a great time to remind APS families and students that it is critically important to attend school from Day One and everyday thereafter. We know that school attendance and preparedness impact children’s lives for a lifetime:
- Up to 7.5 million students miss a month of school each year.
- Math achievement is tied to regular school attendance.
- Missing school can lower math and reading scores and leave your child less likely to graduate.
- For example: A student who is absent 30 days out of the school year has a 41 percent likelihood of graduating from high school; he is likely to score only in the 29 percentile in math and reading.
- A child missing five days of school has an 82 percent likelihood of graduation and scoring in 45 percentile in math and 42 percentile in reading.
- Attendance also strongly affects standardized test scores and graduation and dropout rates.
Every day, including the first day, is a day of instruction, an opportunity to learn. And the research is clear that absences hurt achievement. One report traces students’ struggles to master reading in the third grade to missed days in kindergarten. Another study shows that students’ chance of graduating high school are severely limited by how many days they missed in middle school. Simply put, every school day counts. Coming to school prepared with the tools needed to learn is also important. Now back to the fun stuff.
I had the great pleasure of shopping with busy working mom Ms. Sherrelle Shelley and two of her children Dion (10) and Davion (7) who attend Dunbar Elementary where the school uniform colors are navy and white this year. The boys picked out matching navy wind breakers and Davion had a tough time deciding between the Despicable Me and Spiderman backpacks—he eventual settled on the latter.
Click here for video footage of my back-to-school shopping trip with the Shelley family. With the help of the Target at the Edgewood District, Dion and Davion received school supplies, uniform clothing, shoes and household items needed to ensure a great start to the new school year. Target donated a gift card and another donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, helped Ms. Shelley who has six children, purchase school supplies, clothing and even a new tablet for the home.
I want to send a special thank you out to Ms. Denise Revels and Mr. Emerson Jones the school social workers who helped connect me with this wonderful family and to my friends at Target for being a great partner. If you or someone you know needs assistance please reach out to your school social worker or the Parents as Partners Academic Center for help. It is so important that all of our students are prepared to start school on Day One and every day thereafter. For more information visit us at www.apsbacktoschool.com.
Dion and Davion promised me that they would work hard this school year and promised to take extra good care of their new tablet. As for all my other APS students, it’s been a long summer and I miss you guys! I look forward to seeing you all back in school on Wednesday, August 5. I wish the Shelley family and all APS families a happy new (school) year!