Nearly a month into the new school year, teachers and staff hit the ground running with both instruction and student outreach. The weekend of Sept. 9 saw educators and wraparound specialists visiting student residences on a mission: regain absentee students, and make sure their families know that HISD cares about them.
Assistant Principal Ting Hsuan Liu is new to White Elementary School, and she was excited to join her colleagues on a community walk to visit the homes of absent students and help them address and overcome whatever barriers are keeping them from attending school. The campus registrar compiled a list of students missing during the first week and created a map to guide the walkers to their homes.
Several schools in HISD’s West Division participated in walks tailored to their areas to make their presence known in their communities.
“More than anything, this is an opportunity to get to know our families, to walk into their environment and see some of the barriers that they’re facing,” said Wraparound Specialist Georgina Zepeda Ruano. “Letting them know that we care about them, that there’s a presence, that we’re looking for them and they’re missed, is an important part of getting to know our students.”
Some students and their families weren’t home, of course, so teachers and staff created fliers and door hangers to leave behind, expressing their support and encouraging the students to return to school or reach out if they are in need of assistance.
“I left the information for them, and that’s something that they have as a touchpoint with us,” said Liu. “We will continue to reach out to these families. We’re not just doing this one walk to see if they want to re-enroll and come back to our campus.”
HISD’s Wraparound Services Department has many resources to help students and their families who need access to food and school supplies. They partner regularly with local organizations such as Baker Ripley and West Houston Assistance Ministries to ensure that the needs of our HISD community members are being met. The biggest hurdle, according to Ruano, is that some parents don’t know that they can ask for help.
“A lot of times, they don’t think to communicate with the school, but I would say that they should reach out, that there’s help, and every campus has Wraparound, and there shouldn’t be a reason for them to not feel supported,” Ruano said.