Danica Rubenstein didn’t get her trip to San Diego.
And then she found out she still had high-profile homework to do.
In the end, though, both worked out — much like those calls from the principal’s office seem to be doing, Stacey Sylvester said Friday.
Sylvester is a former teacher who now serves as assistant principal at Skyview Elementary.
If your kid attends the school on River Road, there’s a chance, during this pandemic-attendance year, that your phone has already chirped with a text from her or a teacher there.
Or, that you’ve opened your email to regard a Skyview message containing your kid’s name in the subject line.
Maybe you have yet to experience either one, the assistant principal said.
However, if and when you do, she has two bits of academic advice: Don’t panic, and don’t assume the worst.
In fact, she said, you can consider either one a good thing.
That’s because the school is looking out for your kid, she said. And, you too.
It’s in every assistant principal’s job description to be a hard-liner about attendance: Where’s your doctor’s slip?
What about that hall pass?
Not the ‘truant officer’ you’re thinking of
However, COVID-19 has turned traditional attendance into a patchwork quilt for Monongalia County Schools, she said.
Some kids go part of the time — and some don’t go at all, in that they are totally enrolled in the remote-learning component offered in response to the
The pandemic, in response, has offered up lots of emotional and socioeconomic angst.
Maybe the kid lives out in rural Mon and can’t always get to a Wi-Fi location.
Maybe mom and dad are arguing about money, and it’s just too much of a distraction for that online book report or digital table of equations.
Maybe one missed assignment turned into seven missed
And maybe that morphed into a situation that was paralyzing and overwhelming, at the same time.
“That’s why we check in,” Sylvester said.
“We’ll ask: ‘Hey, is everything all right? What can we do to help?’ ”
Consider it more of a re-calibration than a reprimand, the assistant principal said.
“These days, we have to think about kids and families.”
That’s at the call of Rubenstein, the district’s attendance director.
Roll call, as a second language
Before joining the local school district, she had worked as a police officer and juvenile probation officer from California to West Virginia.
As Donna Talerico, the deputy superintendent of the district said, Rubenstein was already fluent in the language of police and courts when she came over after working probation in Mon County.
It didn’t take a then-director very long, Talerico said, for the-then new director to pick up a language that should technically be the same — but isn’t.
“Danica’s fluent in both,” she said.
In building a new vocabulary, Rubenstein built a new attendance model with the help of the deputy superintendent.
“I call what we do the ‘Talerico Model,’” she said. “Donna makes it happen.”
Rubenstein talks about that model nationally. She sits on state and federal boards related to truancy and juvenile justice.
Last week, she was one of just two attendance officers from the U.S. who presented remotely at a national Attend to Win conference.
Attend to Win is the outreach organization that works to keep students engaged in learning.
‘That’s the one good thing …’
The conference was set for San Diego, before the coronavirus hit.
Organizers still wanted Rubenstein to present, though.
Rubenstein laughed at her Luddite tendencies. That was as she was quietly panicking, the whole while.
“I’m so not digital,” she said.
“I still walk around with a paper calendar.”
With Talerico’s help, she put one together, though. It was heavy on photographs of all those with whom she works with daily.
“This isn’t one person,” she said. “It’s a lot of people.”
And, as said, it’s been a lot of reconsidering, by way of the coronavirus.
“We should have been already been thinking about a lot of this,” she said.
“That’s the one good thing that has come from COVID-19.”