​Church partners with school to host ice cream social for nearly 200 kids with great attendance

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The idea of throwing an ice cream social to reward students for great attendance, or anything wonderful they do in late spring, is not unique.  What makes the event at Lincoln Elementary in Warren in June 2015 a success story is the sheer number of students who qualified to participate. One-hundred and ninety-one students streamed through the sundae line to celebrate making it through the final marking period with less than two absences.

“The students were very excited about the buzz surrounding the event weeks before it occurred, so I know some improved their attendance so that they could be a part of the reward celebration,” said Cheresse Butler, a Pathways to Potential success coach at the school.

The criteria was set by Butler and the school principals, Nicole Suewitz and Michael Harris. “We wanted to reach the goal of having students not miss more than 10 days for the entire school year, and so we set reward eligibility at less than two absences per marking period.  I’m happy to report we had a lot of students meet that challenge,” Butler said.

A key partner who helped provide sundaes and cones to all who qualified was Living Faith Church in Warren. Pastor Robert Ellis met with Macomb County MDHHS Community Resource Coordinator Karen Urquart after learning about Pathways to Potential through a church member who met Butler at a Habitat for Humanity event. Living Faith Church wanted to work with a school within their community.  According to Butler, Ellis and Living Faith Church have been an awesome asset to Lincoln Elementary School.

Not only did the church supply the goodies and scoopers for the year-end ice cream social, they also provided creative incentives for the first two marking period celebrations.  “They supplied gift cards for our First Attendance Challenge Reward Celebration and popcorn, treats and drinks for Afternoon at the Movies, which marked our Second Attendance Challenge Reward Celebration,” Butler said.  

Ellis said he would recommend other churches get involved with Pathways to Potential schools.

“It’s the best thing going,” he said. “It’s been beyond rewarding, and it keeps me invigorated.”

Although the church is 2 to 3 miles from the school, church officials hope to build relationships with people in the community and see being involved in the elementary school as one of the best ways to do that.

For more information on how you can support students at Pathways to Potential schools in your community, please e-mail us at DHS-PathwaystoPotential@michigan.gov or click on the MDHHS Pathways map and scroll down to your county’s map to find schools in your area.

This article is one of a series highlighting community partners working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to improve attendance in schools across Michigan.  Through Pathways to Potential, MDHHS has placed success coaches and other employees in over 200 schools across the state. These people work one-on-one with families to identify and remove barriers to children attending school. We are always looking for new partners, volunteers and donors. Visit www.michigan.gov/pathwaystopotential to learn how you can donate, partner or volunteer.