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The Direct Connection

September 17, 2018

Good Monday morning, Teachers, Staff and Administrators:

Every elementary school that was assigned a school guardian now has one. These men and women have extraordinary backgrounds in the military, law enforcement or both.  Before being trained as guardians, each had to pass formidable screenings; all of them had a drug test, a thorough background check, a polygraph test and a psychological examination.  In all, they took part in 132 hours of intense training with the Volusia County Sheriff's Department, followed by 24 hours of diversity and school safety in-service given by the district.  Those guardians who passed are now in their schools. They are to build relationships with the students, faculty and staff; but, most of all, they are there to keep their campuses safe.

September is Attendance Awareness Month.  Last school year, 10,540 VCS students were chronically absent. This represents 16.9% of our student population. Chronic absenteeism is when a student is absent 10% or more of the school year, which is 18 days out of a 180-day school calendar—this can be as little as missing two days a month.  Absences can be for any reason: avoidance, illness, bullying, parental indifference or suspensions.  Absenteeism impacts student achievement, graduation rates and can often create learning challenges.  "The effects of chronic absence on student learning are potentially calamitous.  A California study, for example, found that only 17 percent of kids who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade read proficiently by the time they reached third grade, compared with 64 percent of students with 'good attendance' "(Swaak, 2018). It is encouraging to see so many tweets from teachers who are building strong classroom cultures, which naturally counters absenteeism because students want to be in those engaging environments.

Our district kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month, so be sure to tweet about classroom activities and school events and add the hashtag #VCSHispanicHeritageMonth.  

Enjoy today's day of professional learning, and many thanks to the staffs at schools, on the busses and in the district.  Have a productive week.

Kindest Regards,

Tom Russell

Ask any successful person, and most will tell you that they had a person who believed in them…
a teacher, a friend, a parent, a guardian, a sister, a grandmother.
It only takes one person, and it doesn't really matter who it is.|
~Sean Covey

James T. Russell
Superintendent of Schools
386/734-7190, extension 20210
Fax:  386/734-2842
Twitter:  @jrussell_t


The Direct Connection (2018-2019)

Direct Connection 1 -- 080817 
Direct Connection 2 -- 081318
Direct Connection 3 -- 082018
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