In Hartford, nearly 1 in 4 students are chronically absent from school. In the North End of Hartford, students experience considerable barriers like trauma, homelessness, and limited access to health or mental health care. At Simpson-Waverly Elementary School, located in the heart of the North End*, nearly 30 percent of students miss more than 18 days of school every year. To support this neighborhood school and community, Hartford Public Schools and the Governor’s Prevention Partnership (the Partnership) came together to address issues of chronic absence and poor academic outcomes. The Partnership’s EdCorps program brings near-peer mentors, recruited from the community, into Simpson-Waverly School. These full-time AmeriCorps mentors provide daily guidance and emotional support to nine to 10 students. In 2015-16, 90 students in grades 3-8 were referred to the program based on Johns Hopkins University’s Robert Balfanz’s ABC’s: struggles with attendance, behavior or course performance.
The components of the mentoring program include:
- Mentoring—EdCorps mentors are present at school arrival every morning in order to check in with their mentee.If their mentee is absent, they contact the family to find out why he or she is not in school.They use positive language and, if appropriate, encourage the family to bring the child to school as soon as possible.
- Academic support—EdCorps members support students in classrooms throughout the day.If students are present in school but struggling, EdCorps members work to identify creative incentives that will support their mentee to be successful in the classroom.For example, students can earn time in the EdCorps office or afternoon basketball in the gym in exchange for prolonged periods of time on task.
- Family and community engagement—EdCorps members partner with school staff on outreach and problem solving with parents.Besides their close contact with their mentee’s families, members help organize family events like the fall Harvest Festival to strengthen the family/school relationship and make families feel welcome.At family events, members table with information about chronic absence to reinforce the idea that every day in school counts.
- Training for mentors—EdCorps Members have a rigorous training process. After orientation, they meet weekly with The Partnership staff for trainings, one-on-one meetings and reflections. They are trained in The Partnership’s rigorous quality standards for mentoring as well as trauma-informed and strength-based approaches to youth development and conflict resolution.
Topic: Mentoring for Student Support
District: Hartford Public Schools
District Snapshot: 21,463 students; 11,267 Hispanic/Latino; 6,565 Black or African American; 2,392 White; 731 Asian; 69 schools; Grades PK-12; 22.4% chronic absence rate (2015-16) and 22.1% (2016-17),
Contact Information: Aristede Hill, Program Supervisor, EdCorpsCT, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-757-3605
References: Governor’s Prevention Partnership. “EdCorpsCT: Increasing Attendance and Improving Academic Outcomes for Students in Hartford.”
*The Simpson-Waverly Elementary School closed at the end of the 2017-18 school year and the EdCorpsCT program will reopen Wish Elementary School in the fall of 2018.