NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Student retention has been a major issue at Shwab Elementary, according to the school’s principal.
On average, about one-third of all students at Shwab Elementary are chronically absent, Dr. Cheryl Bowman said. Chronic absence means missing 10 or more school days in one semester.
Shwab has a total of 339 students, which means about 105 students are excessively absent from school.
“We’re having this fight with the families to try to help them understand what we can do as a family because we’re all Team Schwab,” Bowman said. “We want them here. We need them here. If they are not in these places, we cannot teach them.”
Bowman said the main problems parents face when picking their children up for school are transportation, oversleeping as a result of working at night, and dirty or inadequate school uniforms.
To combat this, Bowman received a washer and dryer as a gift to the school. She washes the students’ clothes when necessary so that they cannot use it as a barrier to prevent them from going to class.
“We make a commitment that if families entrust us with their students’ clothing and give us their students’ clothing in a non-discernible form, we will take care of them, we will wash that uniform for them,” Bowman said. “If it’s a problem of not having a clean uniform, if they need a uniform, we’ll help provide uniforms for them. If it’s a transportation need, we’ve provided bus passes for families.”
Dr. Adrienne Battle, Superintendent of Metro Nashville Public Schools, has set an average daily attendance goal of 95% for the district. Bowman said Schwab’s daily attendance is about 92%. Her goal is to reach 95 percent by the end of the school year.
“We are the legs, arms, feet and voice of Dr. Battle, which is Cheryl Bowman, Schwab and the district’s bottom line,” Bowman said. “And that’s why we’re marching to the beat and we’re rallying because we know once again that if they’re not in school, they can’t learn.”
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