Westbury High School has rebranded its truancy office to better reflect its mission, and already the “Student Success Center” is living up to its new name.
Designed to help students graduate by accentuating the positive aspects of the team’s efforts, the rebranding was launched this fall in conjunction with other campus initiatives, including “Relationships Matter: Every Student Needs a Champion.” That schoolwide awareness campaign spotlights teachers who have made powerful connections with students and who have created classroom environments in which those young people thrive.
“A lot of times, students don’t want to tell you their problems,” explained teacher Robert Lyle, who prevented student Adrian Hernandez from dropping out by helping him land a job in his chosen career field. “It’s digging deeper with each student that you have that relationship built with to find out what really matters to them.”
“You can be the greatest teacher, but if you do not have that relationship…you are not going to reach that most-at-risk kid,” added Westbury At-Risk Program Administrator Craig Zeno.
The rebranding effort is particularly timely since the Texas legislature passed HB 2398, which ended the criminalization of truancy effective Sept. 1, 2015.
Coming from a student’s point of view, having a close relationship with a teacher makes me want to truly strive forward to continue studying and working hard. Otherwise, having someone teach me when we don’t even tolerate each other doesn’t make any progress appear out of thin air.