By Rebecca Leclerc, AmeriCorps member, Wellington Management Team at theTrotter Innovation School
Attendance is one of the three areas of a student’s success that City Year focuses on. One of my favorite parts of service last year was acting as the Attendance Coordinator for the Wellington Management team serving at the Trotter Innovation School. (Why does City Year target attendance? Learn about it here.)
Perfect Attendance Parties
One of the best parts of being an Attendance Coordinator was celebrating students’ successes. Each month my team threw ice cream parties for 1st through 5th graders to celebrate those students who had perfect attendance the previous month. The tables were covered in paper for students to draw on; we played music for them to dance to and give out pencils, ice cream, and certificates to recognize their attendance achievements.
When the end of the month approached, students of all ages would ask me when the next attendance party was and if they earned a spot on the invitation list. One 2nd grade student, Alex*, ran up to me every time he saw me to ask if he got to go to the party.
School-Wide Attendance Initiatives
Coordinator positions allow AmeriCorps members the space to inject creativity into initiatives. As Attendance Coordinator, I started an initiative where classes could win an attendance trophy. The class with the highest average daily attendance for the entire month also had their picture displayed on our attendance board (you can click here to see some corps members' awesome bulletin board designs) and were invited to participate in game time with the AmeriCorps members. A kindergarten class won for the month of January, and we went into their class during free time to color, play with blocks, and read to them. When a 3rd grade class won in February, we organized a dodge ball game with them.
Attendance coordinators work with the team to create themes and different ways to greet students as they enter school each morning. Participating in morning greeting pumped the students up and made us more energetic and enthusiastic for our day at the school--both students and corps alike. Seeing my teammates don sports jerseys while throwing around a foam football, wear stick-on fuzzy mustaches or the silliest hats (sometimes made of construction paper) is not only entertaining for the students, but for corps and teachers too.
Attendance Ubuntu Week
Ubuntu is a Zulu proverb that means, "I am because you are. My humanity is tied to yours." We practiced the spirit of ubuntu during Attendance Ubuntu Week where City Year teams of AmeriCorps members serving in different schools collaborated to promote attendance and to build community between the schools. The Trotter partnered with the Burke High School last year. Throughout the week, AmeriCorps members at both schools participated in a morning greeting swap where we were able to greet each other’s students; we traded cards encouraging positive behavior and good attendance between our students and created welcoming banners signed by our students to hang up in one another’s school. Not only were our students inspiring each other but our elementary students realized they have role models within their own community. The Burke High School students realized they are role models for younger students in their community. The week culminated in a pizza party between some Burke students and the students from our after school program. It was so exciting to see all the wonderful conversations our students were having and to watch the relationships they were building!