Posted at: 09/19/2012 6:44 PM
By: Laura Lee
We Want You Back Initiative
(ABC 6 News) -- Every year, school districts focus on how to improve the quality of education for students, even the ones that no longer go to school.
"Sometimes they haven't had a positive experience in the system sometimes, its just circumstances in the kids life that take them one place," says Principal Tim Limberg at John Marshall High School.
On average, 200 to 300 9-12th grade students statewide drop out of school. For the first time in Southeastern Minnesota, one school district is reaching out to bring them back.
"In Rochester we know that our students matter and this really was a great partnership for the Rochester Public Schools and for United Way of Olmsted County to form this year to say all kids matter," says United Way of Olmsted County President Karen Mathison.
A partnership, with one message: " We Want You Back."
"We as a system probably don't do enough or as good of job trying to meet their needs," says Superintendent Michael Munoz of Rochester Public Schools. "They just assumed we've written them off and that is something that gets to your heart and it really made us realized we sent the wrong message to these students."
"If we can just go and give them a gentle nudge to say come back, we want you, I think thats a positive," says Limberg.
A positive initiative that will take a lot of people and a lot of work. On October 6th, school officials and community leaders will go door to door -- welcoming students no longer in the system -- back.
"There's something special when someone from the district comes to your door on a Saturday morning and encourages you to come back," says Munoz.
An initiative that has proven to be successful in the past in his previous school district in Des Moines, IA.
"The very first year, several students told us you know what, we didn't think you wanted us back," says Munoz.
"It sends a pretty powerful message."
"Part of what we'll learn during the event, is why their not attending school, what we can do to help them feel connected and what they need," says Mathison.
"The other important part too, is once we get them back in school, our work isn't done," says Munoz.
"What we found is we need to assign someone to these kids so we cam follow up with them on a weekly basis because if not, they're going to turn around and drop out again."
But success comes at the hands of everyone involved in that childs life -- including the parents.
"I've never met a parent that says that they don't want something better for their kids or that they don't want the best for their kids, so I think this will be good to do," says Limberg.
"We as a community owe it to them, we have to stand together and say this is important," says Mathison.
United Way of Olmsted County is still looking for volunteers for the event on October 6.
For more information we've posted a link to their website at <http://www.uwolmsted.org/comeback>.