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Getting Engaged
DeSoto County Alternative Center
Posted On: Wednesday, March 02, 2016

"Getting Engaged"


One of the biggest problems we as educators face is the motivation of our students. This becomes progressively worse as students age and affects multiple facets of their educational experience. A publication titled Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students’ Motivation to Learn, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences in 2003, states “When students from disadvantaged backgrounds in high poverty, urban high schools become disengaged, they are less likely to graduate and consequently face severely limited opportunities”. It continues by saying that this failure “increases dramatically their risk of unemployment, poverty, poor health, and involvement in the criminal justice system”. With the average percentage of students at DCAC on free or reduced lunch hovering around 90%, our school is positioned to have a considerable effect on this at risk population. However, as noted in the recommendations of the Engaging Schools, the school cannot do this alone. 

The Executive Summary of this text contains ten recommendations to improve engagement of students. These recommendations range from improvement in teacher training and teacher/student relationships to increasing support and resources for both teachers and students. However, I wish to focus on the last two recommendations that analyze aspects of the relationship between teachers/schools and parents/communities.  We have all heard the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”, and incidentally, the data collected by Engaging Schools supports this position. Schools that involve parents and the community within the learning process are more likely to produce higher achieving students. Therefore, it is advantageous for us to work together to assist our students/children to succeed academically. 

Here at DCAC, we are in daily contact with parents through the use of the student’s feedback sheet. How students perform academically and behaviorally is contained and summarized on this sheet. We also give parents information about topics discussed during the daily group sessions that are used to reinforce the values and behaviors students need to be successful in school. Each day, students take this sheet home and are required to have their parents sign it to prove they have seen it. This practice is unique to DCAC and allows parents to keep up with their child’s progress through our program. However, more can be done to help with student achievement. 

Another practice necessary to gain the best results for students is for students to have activities and resources within their communities and for these activities to have values that align with those of their school. The effect of this practice can be summed up by the proverb saying that “idle hands are the devil’s playground”. If students are busy with activities that help them better themselves, then they are less likely to find trouble. Also, this puts them in contact with other children who could have a positive influence upon them. Both of these practices are beneficial to students and reduce the chances of disengagement. These effects can be increased if the school and community work together to develop activities for the youth they both serve.  

In conclusion, all of us educators, administrators, parents, and community members must work together for the betterment of our students and children with regard to their interest in school. Their success should be our primary mission. If we do not work together, we will all suffer the consequences in the future because these children are our future. 


Ben McChesney

GED Teacher


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