As president of the Board of Education for J.S. Morton High School District 201, Jeff Pesek serves schools in Cicero and Berwyn, Illinois. In addition to guiding the board’s vision, he has enhanced the district’s curriculum and implemented an open enrollment model to increase access to advanced placement classes. Jeff Pesek complements his commitment to his district with support of charitable organizations including United Way.
United Way has found that chronic school absence makes students less likely to meet academic standards and, ultimately, less likely to graduate on schedule. The nonprofit defines chronic absence as missing 10 percent or more of classes, whether absences are excused or unexcused. In order to raise awareness of the importance of regular school attendance, United Way has declared September 2015 “Attendance Awareness Month.”
During September, chapters nationwide are implementing initiatives to celebrate learning and combat chronic absence. For example, in northeastern and central Connecticut, organizers have placed signage on buses, developed a web portal through which parents and community members can access tools and educational resources, and hosted events to mark the return to school. To facilitate these regional efforts, United Way has created a website, awareness.attendanceworks.org, that provides tool kits, promotional materials, and useful resources for families, educators, chambers of commerce, and other entities, making it easy to get involved.