McIntosh, a 2017 graduate of Henry County High School, was recently recognized by Kentucky’s sixth region of Directors of Pupil Personnel for earning perfect attendance from his first day kindergarten through his high school graduation. Zach Woods, Henry County Public Schools’ Director of Student Services, recently presented McIntosh with the recognition and a monetary reward.
“Perfect attendance wasn’t a thought I had growing up, it kind of just happened. So when I entered middle school and became self-aware of the scenario, that is when I made it a goal of mine to continue throughout the rest of my middle and high school education,” McIntosh said. “It was definitely rough, but it was worth it in the end.”
McIntosh believes his perfect attendance contributed to a high grade point average, which led to being named a Governor’s Scholar and earning several local and college scholarships. He also knows the habit will serve him well in the workforce.
“When an employer is looking for applicants, they see someone who is highly qualified but misses a lot of work, and then they see someone who is slightly less qualified, but doesn’t miss work. That employer is more likely to hire the one with perfect attendance,” McIntosh said.
While good, or even perfect attendance in McIntosh’s case, can propel a student’s success, poor attendance and chronic absenteeism – missing more than 10 percent of school per year – can be a detriment to learning and present an obstacle to future accomplishments in the classroom and beyond.
When kids are absent for an average of just two days of school per month even when the absences are excused, it can have a negative impact. These absences can affect students as early as kindergarten, according to attendanceworks.org.
For example, young elementary school students who miss an average of just two school days per month often have difficulty keeping up with their peers academically and tend to fall behind in reading.
“Kids who are chronically absent are more likely to miss early learning milestones and less likely to read at grade level by the third grade,” Woods said. “Those students who can’t read at grade level by third grade are then four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out somewhere along the way.”
Missing 20 percent of school by ninth grade can better predict dropout rates than test scores. Along with behavior problems and failure of core academic courses, poor student attendance is a critical early warning sign of dropout.
Missing just two days of school each month will add up to missing almost an entire month of school. Across the nation, there are 98 million school days lost to absenteeism and one in seven students is chronically absent. However, Woods acknowledged that some absences are legitimate and necessary.
“Kids are going to get sick and we’re not advocating that parents send their children to school if they are sick,” Woods said. “But certain appointments could be scheduled outside of school time and parents will schedule that time off if they value school. It’s important for parents to set that example that you should value school.”
McIntosh admits he was very lucky in that he rarely got sick, but also points out that he had a great example to follow in his parents and his mother especially. Gayla McIntosh works as the school secretary at Campbellsburg Elementary School.
“She was my ride to school every day and her working there made it even easier for me to want to go to school each and every day,” McIntosh said. “My parents have always pushed me to excel in anything that I do and that was big for me because when you are younger you look up to your parents and you do what they do.”
“It’s internal – that perseverance piece of it,” Woods said. “Some kids and adults have that ability, that soft skill of making sure you go and get your job done. That you’re present and you commit to your job, making yourself invaluable to your employer.”
Still, Woods admits getting through 13 years of school without missing a single day shows an extraordinary level of effort.
“To make it your whole career without missing a single day of school?” Woods asked. “That’s pretty impressive to persevere and get up and go on to school every day. It’s one of the most important skills we can have and we should award kids for their stick-to-it-ness to go to school.”
Developing that skill as a child has stuck with McIntosh, who currently attends Eastern Kentucky University majoring in finance, and will carry him forward as he chooses a career.
“Perfect attendance is something that can help you for the rest of your life,” McIntosh said. “In school it benefitted me most in the classroom, just being in each class every day. Not missing out on all the assignments helps you stay up-to-date with your work and helps you learn more overall.”
For more information about HCPS’ attendance policies, please contact your student’s principal or Zach Woods at (502) 845-8600. Information and relevant forms are also available on the district website at http://www.henry.kyschools.us/District/Links-Forms.