From the Principal’s Pen – January 2019
Submitted by: Jennifer McGee, Principal
When I was a kid, if we didn’t arrive somewhere 15 minutes early, my father thought we were late. If my curfew was 11:00 at night, I would be home by 10:45…just to be on the safe side!
I recently held a little luncheon for some of my young adult relatives. I planned a 1:00 dinner on a Saturday. I got up early and got everything prepared, and set a lovely table, wanting to make this a special occasion.
I received my first text from the young men at 1:23 (but who’s counting, right?). The text was nonchalant: “On our way” with a “smile emoji”. I tried to be nice and sent: a “smile emoji” back with a “thumbs up emoji”. Now, what I wanted to send was: an “angry face emoji” with a clock face and the words….YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE HERE BY 1:00!!!!! But I didn’t.
Needless to say, one unanticipated event after another ultimately led to a dinner at 3:30 instead of 1:00, and I was tense (to say the least).
Anyhow, not to sound like an old, uncool, a little over middle-aged, crow…but when did time frames become so wiggly?
I am currently taking a class called the Educational Leadership Experience. It is a great course and I am able to travel all over the state of Maine with the goal of connecting the business world to the educational world. At each business location, the educators hear the same message. What we hear is this: businesses can teach the nuts and bolts of their companies procedures…but what they can’t teach is the “softer skills”. They are having a difficult time finding young employees who are ready to work, have a strong work ethic, who are always on time, and who have strong attendance.
Last year all of the district administrators got together with our school board and we outlined our areas of focus for the 2018-2019 school year. School attendance and punctuality (being at school on time) were top priorities for every schoolhouse in RSU 18. In my summer letter, I outlined the importance of school attendance and the lifelong habits instilled by being on time, but now, as we welcome a new year, I would like to re-visit this topic.
Attendanceworks.org is a national educational organization. They offer the following valuable information to families about the importance of good habits of attendance: Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school – and themselves. Start building this habit in preschool so they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Good attendance will help children do well in high school, college and at work.
Here are some wonderful tips to help support you in your efforts to ensure your children are here every day and on time:
- set a regular bedtime and morning routine
- lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before
- don’t let your child stay home unless he/she is truly sick
- keep in mind complaints of a stomach ache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home
- if your child seems anxious about going to school please talk to the teachers, school counselors or other parents for advice about how to make your child feel more comfortable and excited about school
- develop back up plans for getting your child to school if something comes up for you: a family member, neighbor or another parent
- avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session
When Do Absences Become a Problem?
Chronic Absences: 18 or more days
Warning Signs: 10 to 17 days
Satisfactory: 9 or fewer
So, as we all welcome in the year 2019, perhaps some of you may want to make resolutions in your own lives around attendance and punctuality. There is a book on the best seller’s list. “Make Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change Your Life..and Maybe the World.” This book suggests that beginning your day by meeting a goal, like making your bed, sets the stage for success for the rest of your day. Being on time and attendance is quite like that…when children are at school regularly, and on time, they feel a sense of routine and structure that create an “I can do this” mindset. When children arrive late or have not been at school regularly, they are put in the unfair position of trying to catch up all day long.
I wish you all a wonderful New Year! I hope 2019 brings you and your families peace, joy, and good health!
Jennifer McGee, Principal
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Dates to Note:
No School: December 31 or January 1: Holiday Break
No School: Monday, January 21: Martin Luther King Day
No School: Tuesday, January 22: Teacher In-Service Day