Margie Daniels, Executive Director
467 Main St.
Wakefield MA 01880
For Immediate Release
Monday, Oct. 2, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Middlesex Partnerships for Youth Hosts Successful School Attendance Summit
LEXINGTON — Margie Daniels, executive director of Middlesex Partnerships for Youth Inc. is pleased to announce that the organization recently hosted a successful summit, featuring more than 100 top educational, mental health and law enforcement leaders from across northeastern Massachusetts who are seeking to reduce school absenteeism.
Middlesex Partnerships for Youth’s annual School Attendance Summit was held on September 29, 2017 at Cranberry Hill in Lexington. A record crowd participated in the interactive and informative conference.
The Honorable Judge Jay Blitzman opened the conference with a talk entitled Adverse Childhood Experiences. Judge Blitzman explained how many students have complicated childhoods and this may impact their ability to attend school. Judge Blitzman summed up his presentation by saying that “School success and social connection are essential to positive youth development and this helps to protect public safety.”
Following the judge’s opening remarks, a team from the Lowell Public Schools presented their innovative and effective program to combat excessive absenteeism called “Helping Students Stay the Course.” The following professionals from Lowell participated in this spotlight presentation:
- Jeannine Durkin, Deputy Superintendent
- Heather Ganley, District Attendance Supervisor
- Rosa Segerra-Morales, District Attendance Monitor
- Nancy Crones, District Support Specialist
- Adam Murphy, School Liaison
- Kristin Pepin, Probation Officer, Middlesex Juvenile Court, Lowell
The Lowell Program is an example of “best practice” to reduce excessive absenteeism and prevent students from dropping out of school before graduating.
Dr. Leah Kelley, Executive Director of Adolescent Consultation Services, spoke about “Accessing Resources Through the Juvenile Court Clinic.” According to Dr. Kelly, “Poor school attendance is almost always a symptom of other struggles in a child’s life. It represents a critical window of opportunity to intervene and to help shift the trajectory toward success.”
The next speaker was Juvenile Probation Officer Timothy Carey who spoke about “Engaging Youth and Families with the Help of Probation.” When asked to sum up his presentation, Probation Officer Tim Carey responded “Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.”
Two representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, Thomas Malone, Metro Regional and Counsel and Denis Pilotte, Area Program Manager, spoke about “Understanding DCF as a Resource.” They stressed that children not attending school often have other serious situations going on in their homes and that these cases are complicated and call for significant interventions, often from multiple agencies.
Richard Melillo, Director of Student Services from the Somerville Schools, was the final speaker. His talk, “A Team Effort – Collaborating Within Your School” highlighted a systematic approach to attendance and truancy issues. ..” Mr. Melillo said that “ Identifying high risk high need students through attendance & behavioral data and then prescribing social emotional interventions is critical to student regulation which will increase student seat time.” He stressed the importance of students attending school and being in their seats during instruction.
Middlesex Partnerships for Youth Executive Director Margie Daniels commented that this summit was a very interactive gathering of diverse professionals concerned with the health and safety of students.
“The high level of interactive discussion regarding positive solutions to excessive absenteeism was stimulating and invigorating,” she said.
School attendance is a vital youth safety issue statewide and is a chief concern among youth services agencies across the nation.
Middlesex Partnerships for Youth is next focused on safety, with its 22nd Annual School Safety Summit: “Recognizing and Responding to Today’s Terrorism Threats” scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Assabet Valley Technical High School, Marlborough.
Members of the media wishing to attend tomorrow’s event should RSVP by replying to this email.