County-wide collaboration includes Kent ISD, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, Grand Rapids Community College, K-Connect, Kent School Services Network, Great Start Collaborative, Steelcase Foundation, and Believe 2 Become
With 6.5 million students chronically absent from school in the United States each year, including an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 in Kent County, several local organizations are teaming up to make sure our youngest children are establishing good attendance habits early.
Through a catchy local attendance campaign that has gone national, educational institutions, non-profits, community organizations, and philanthropy in Kent County are joining forces to help parents of Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) preschoolers understand the importance of good school attendance county-wide, beginning in the first months of preschool.
“Most parents know that good school attendance is the foundation for learning essential skills on time, staying on track in school, and graduating from high school,” said Michael Ghareeb, Kent ISD Director of Early Childhood Education. “They might be surprised to learn, however, that good attendance means missing fewer than five days a year and that attendance habits start in preschool. Good attendance in preschool will make your child more likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to earn a good living as an adult.”
The effort includes two opportunities from Believe 2 Become, an initiative of the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, to participate using social media and smart phones: (1) a fun October social media video contest featuring preschoolers, and (2) a school-year-long text messaging component that sends parents helpful attendance and literacy tips every two weeks. Collaborative support for the texting program has come from the Great Start Collaborative, Steelcase Foundation, and B2B.
The social media contest will include GSRP classrooms at Kent ISD, GRPS, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC), and Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC). Each GSRP preschool teacher will be invited to post a short video of their students saying “Strive for less than five!,” using all the creativity and energy their tiny students can muster. The video that receives the highest engagement on social media will win a grand prize of $200 in gift cards, and nine other videos will be selected as $100 gift card winners in the following categories: most creative, most funny, greatest age range (parents and grandparents are welcome!), most people featured, most colorful, most inclusive, most endearing, most persuasive, most powerful.