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Annual Success Walk brings out Volunteers to Encourage Attendance

HOUSTON - Sept. 16, 2019 - Summer Brown’s mother had a van full of Spring ISD employees and volunteers knocking on her door Saturday morning, and she was delighted

She got to meet members of the Spring ISD Board of Trustees, the Superintendent and the President of Lone Star College-North Harris College. Even better, they helped deliver the message to her daughter that attendance counts, especially if Summer wants to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.

“I love it,” said Summer’s mom, Demetris Adams. “It shows the support. This is beautiful.”

The home visit was one of hundreds made across the district on Sept. 14 as Spring ISD staff, administrators and volunteers took part in the sixth annual Success Walk, a campaign to reach out to students who have not returned to school and encourage all students to attend classes every day.

The event kicked off at Westfield High School where Principal David Mason thanked participants for coming out to support the 2019 Success Walk, including Superintendent Rodney E. Watson, Board President Rhonda Newhouse, and Trustees Justine Durant, Winford Adams Jr. and Deborah Jensen.

This year’s event also drew support from Lone Star College-North Harris President Dr. Gerald Napoles, who spoke to students about life after high school.

“If you finish, I can give you a $500 scholarship to attend Lone Star,” he told high school student Aaron Hernandez, short only two half-credits in English and Spanish for graduation.

Napoles and the board members urged the teen to make a commitment to finish high school and earn his diploma. “We want you back in school,” Watson said.

This year’s Success Walk came as the district puts an even bigger emphasis on attendance. The goal is to raise the overall average attendance rate by 1.5 percent.

Improving attendance means tackling the reasons students may not be coming to school, including such challenges as poverty and homelessness, and oversleeping or missing the bus.

“It’s really important to get our kids back in school, figure out what their challenges are and what’s keeping them from coming to school,” said Trustee Adams.

“A person making face-to-face contact can make all the difference,” he said.

By the end of the day, Director of Student Affairs Thomas Graham Jr. estimated that 279 volunteers had made more than 350 contacts with students and families. During a district phone bank two days earlier, volunteers called an additional 140 students.

For Board President Newhouse, the best part of Success Walk was the opportunity to speak directly with students and their families, including Joseph Jones of Bammel Middle School.

Jones was still sleepy when he came to the door to meet with Success Walk volunteers, but he listened as Newhouse spoke to him about getting involved in school activities he enjoys so he’s more motivated to come to school. One of the issues keeping Jones from school is a tendency to fall back asleep in the morning after his mom wakes him.

“It’s very important for you to be at school,” Newhouse told him. “Your teachers are missing you.”