It was about 3:00 and I had been off-site in meetings all day and had just pulled into the school parking lot to try to get a few projects completed before the end of the day. I pulled up, got out and noticed a parent heading my way along with StarShine’s Rock Star music teacher, Steve McCarty.
Steve got to me first and explained how well our students were doing in his guitar class. I gave him a smile and a hug and turned toward the parent. She was wearing a 'hoodie' with the hood up, skinny jeans and large dark glasses. She looked like she was in her mid-twenties. The parent explained that her 8th grade daughter was having trouble in school and she wanted to enroll her at StarShine. I welcomed her and walked her to the school office to meet with Jan Parsons, our Assistant Headmaster.
Every year during the spring months, after the funding cut-off, many schools start pushing students out their doors. Most of these students are kids who have struggled during the year, or ones who have parents who are non-existent or difficult, or students who have poor attendance, poor academics or poor behavior.These kids are pushed into other schools after the deadline in which the school has been funded for the year, but before the state testing starts. In Arizona, this happens before AIMS testing starts. Doing this allows the school and district to be fully funded for the student for that year, but their test scores do not affect the schools rating. It’s a common occurrence and one very few people outside of education know about. In fact, since mid January, we have enrolled over 25 students. That is 25 students who have left other surrounding schools, midyear and are looking for another option.
Of course, these students are always welcomed at StarShine even though we will receive no funding for them this year. They spend the first week with us attending StarShine Boot Camp. At StarShine Boot Camp, students learn what I call, ‘how to be a student.’ They learn things like why they should come to school, they learn about goals and goal-setting, they learn about the StarShine Guiding Principles, and they learn how to take notes, develop outlines and use the internet appropriately. Most importantly, we build up their self-esteem and self-worth so they can be successful.
At StarShine, where I am Superintendent, we never turn a student or family away no matter what time of year it is.
If you enjoyed reading this inspirational Kids Without Stuff story, you will want to read: