Attendance is the target at Belle Glade Elementary

BELLE GLADE — BRIDGES of Belle Glade will be convening its Early Childhood Leadership Collaborative at its regular monthly meeting, set for 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at Belle Glade Elementary School — and the community’s invited. Members will get together to discuss the new push the organization is jumping in on for 2020 and to strategize about how to get it done.

The Community Partners of South Florida group, made up of educational stakeholders throughout Palm Beach County, has BRIDGES offices in both Belle Glade and Pahokee and is undertaking an initiative for 2020 designed to recognize or reward parents who try their best to help ensure their children do not miss out on education by failing to attend school or ditching classes.

BRIDGES of Belle Glade’s outreach coordinator, Colin Walkes, explained: “We’re working on a collaborative, it’s called the Early Childhood Leadership Collaborative, and there are many stakeholders throughout the community who are part of the collaborative, such as the Palm Beach County School District, Belle Glade Elementary — the target school for the attendance initiative that we’re having through our ECLC — and also at the table are the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, the Early Childhood Learning Coalition, several childcare centers, Head Start and many others as well.”

He said the project will address this because statistical studies have shown that getting parents more closely involved in their kids’ education is proven to help them achieve better academic records and thus more success in life.

And what better way to encourage that than by holding up successful parents as an example for others? That’s the thought behind the initative.

“So we want to recognize parents of children who are receiving perfect attendance, in the hope that they’ll inspire other parents to make sure they’re getting their children ready and on time for school,” Mr. Walkes said.

“The ECLC is doing several initiatives, attendance roundups at Belle Glade Elementary, our target school, and working closely with the principal to recognize the parents and reaching out to local media.

“We know that when parents are recognized, it gives them a feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction,” he continued, “and so we hope that this is an effort that can spur attendance being increased at our school.”

He said names of these parents who are recognized will be sent to local media so they will see their pictures in the newspaper and hear their names on local radio stations.

As for the meeting next Monday, Mr. Walkes said, “There will also be parents present as well. These are monthly meetings that we have. I think this is our fourth or fifth year of taking on challenges within our target schools.”

In the 2018-19 academic year, he said, “we did a tool kit surrounding trying to decrease the ‘summer slides.’ That’s when, of course, during the summer months children are not academically engaged, so we created a summer kit for parents to have so they can work with their kids on certain academic skills during the summer so we won’t have that ‘slide’ when they come back to school.”

“This year we’re tackling attendance,” Mr. Walkes continued. “So every year there’s a different initiative that comes out of the ECLC. We encourage the community to attend because parents are the key to a child’s success in school.”

For those interested in learning more about their projects, the BRIDGES office in Belle Glade is at 33 W. Avenue A., 33430, and their phone number is 561-992-8210. In Pahokee, it has an office at the Community Health Center, 170 S. Barfield Highway, Suite 102, Pahokee 33476. Their phone number is 561-924-9224.

Mr. Walkes also said, “The initiatives are born out of gathering of statistical data and also working with the principal, administration and parents. They’re the ones that identify the area of need.

“Once parents are involved in the child’s education, the likelihood of the child being successful in academics increases tremendously. So we encourage input.”

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