Prescott volunteer appreciates chance to help PUSD reduce absenteeism
Updated as of Sunday, January 19, 2020 10:34 PM
From working as a teacher’s assistant in a private school in southern California and as a mother of a now-senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott resident Tammy Leara knows the importance of a strong educational foundation.
She also knows it cannot happen if a child is unable to be in class most days of the year. As a member of the Republican Women of Prescott, Leara said she was seeking a volunteer duty that would not interfere with her ability to be a supportive parent to her daughter, Ally, an Embry-Riddle soccer player majoring in forensic biology. She found her niche with the Wrap-around Restorative Attendance program aimed at reducing chronic absenteeism in the Prescott Unified School District.
In her volunteer role, Leara visits Granite Mountain once a month with school leaders about identified students, and then from the comfort of her home makes phone calls and mails out both “celebration” and “concern” post cards to families. He has worked with families whose child was missing four days a month, but now have missed none.
In some cases, families take children out for a vacation or a business trip, unaware of how much of an interruption that can be to a child’s education, Leara said.
From kindergarten to high school graduation, Leara said she doesn’t think her daughter missed more than 12 days in total, and she has some students who missed that many days in their first semester.
For students whose attendance improved, Leara will send out the celebratory cards as an encouragement to keep up with good attendance; for those who might be struggling she sends the “concerned” cards to alert families and students that they want to help in whatever way possible to get students to school.
In the two years she has been volunteering with the project, Leara said she has encountered parents who are defensive as well as those who were unaware and appreciated the effort to rectify the issue. Students are often surprised to learn someone noticed that they were not in class, she said.
In all cases, Leara said she strives to be positive in all her written and telephone correspondence. When she can talk to parents or guardians, Leara stresses the resources available to assist them.
“It’s a good feeling to try and help these parents see how important it is for children to be in school,” Leara concluded.
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