This year 245 students from the DA’s Truancy Reduction schools will receive bicycles and helmets. This year's Bike Rewards program was sponsored by the Hyde Family Foundation, the Rotary Club of Memphis and Huey’s.
“I am so proud of these students for their dedication and hard work throughout the school year,” said Gen. Weirich. “Even under the best of circumstances, achieving perfect attendance is not easy. The parents, grandparents and guardians also should be congratulated.”
The winners are from Ford Road Elementary, Magnolia Elementary, Hawkins Mill Elementary, Hickory Ridge Elementary, Alton Elementary, Winridge Elementary, Chickasaw Middle, Hamilton Middle, Sherwood Middle, Hickory Ridge Middle, Ridgeway Middle and Georgian Hills Middle.
These schools and two others (Westside and Shannon) form the fourteen Shelby County Schools that currently participate in the DA’s Truancy Reduction Program.
"We would like to have more schools participate in our mentoring program," said Megan Petrowski, the DA's Truancy Reduction Program Coordinator. "More mentors and attendance advocates are needed for that to happen and we are always seeking help from the entire community. A big thanks goes to our partners and officers assigned to the MPD's Community Outreach Policing (COPS) program."
During the academic year 2005-06, a DA’s office review of crime and truancy statistics showed that one-quarter of juvenile crime in Memphis occurred during school hours away from campuses, most likely involving truant or expelled students.
In response, the office’s Truancy Reduction Program was created the following school year to identify at-risk students with excessive unexcused absences and to provide assistance to students, parents and faculty to reduce truancy rates.
Since that time, truancy rates have declined each year at the participating schools. The voluntary program matches truant students with trained mentors from the community who work with them and emphasize the importance of daily school attendance.
The truancy mentors are recruited from businesses, churches, colleges and volunteer organizations to work at least one year with the students and make weekly contact with the student. A mentor advocate from the SCDAG’s Office also is involved.
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can contact the Truancy Reduction Program coordinator Megan Pietrowski at 901-222-1395, or apply on the SCDAG’s website.