Because attendance is one of the key factors in school success and graduation, Bernalillo High School is hitting the problem from several angles.
In addition to working closely with the truancy monitor and liaisons to make phone calls and home visits when necessary, providing incentives for good attendance, forming an Attendance Team, and participating in a national effort to reduce chronic absenteeism, the school has just launched a success mentor project.
Through this project, modeled after a successful initiative in New York City, the school recruits volunteers to serve as mentors. Mentors can be any adult at the school. Their job is to provide one-on-one support, encouragement, and practical problem solving for students with a history of chronic absence. Mentors and students must connect a minimum of three times per week either in person or online.
“The success mentor project allows us to develop a different type of relationship with students,” says Principal Keith Cowan. “The idea is to be a support and someone who students feel comfortable with. I believe this program will be successful because we have an outstanding group of mentors who are excited to build positive relationships with students.”
Mentors will track their interactions with students and Mission: Graduate will support their effort by providing data collection support.
There are 35 students and 24 current mentors participating in the pilot which runs through the end of the semester. The team will evaluate the success and make enhancements to the program and be ready to launch in the upcoming school year.