Morningside Middle School takes new approach to address chronic absences

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – When calling home and sending emails and letters was not showing results, Morningside Middle School’s new principal Michael White thought of a new plan. He figured the best thing was to go out into the community, knock on the students’ doors, and look them eye-to-eye.

Principal White took on his mission of visiting 83 specific scholars’ homes with the help of 20 of Morningside Middle School’s teachers and 4 administrative team members. 

In the end, they were able to engage with 47 of the intended 83 they set out for. The reason they were unable to reach their intended number was because there were families that they came across that were not included in their original count but wished to speak on behalf of their children.

As for what they found, Principal White said many were having difficulty with the technology they had available, or the lack there of. This ultimately led to 20 families receiving MiFi hotspots along with other assistances. But Principal White also found that technology wasn’t the only impediment they found.  

We were able to, kind of, immediately see some results. There were some scholars who we realized that their mother was at work from 8 to 8, so one of us, and myself actually took the initiative to email them about twice a week to say, ‘hey, what are you doing young lady?’ Like I would physically call her, and she was surprised the first time. And I was like, ‘yeah this is Principal White because I believe in you.’ And that was our theme. We went out there, we took them this cup that had Morningside on it and had on the back of it, it said simply that: Morningside believes in you. Because we have this expectation that they can do anything as long as they kind of keep their minds focused.  

Michael White, Principal 

In another case, one parent shared they were having financial issues. With the assistance of a representative from one of the departments that deals with grants for families in crisis, they were able to fill out the necessary applications for aid. White said over all, the day spent door-to-door was amazing when he saw the ‘wrap around of services provided all together’.

Principal White said he does plan to continue these in-person checks on a quarterly basis for those who are still showing absences.

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