Sunday, December 21, 2014

Economic struggles force some families to adjust, make it work

By COURTNEY SERVAES, Herald Staff Writer | 11/11/2009

Children go wherever their parents go.

And sometimes, Renee Crenshaw said they get caught in the middle.

Children go wherever their parents go.

And sometimes, Renee Crenshaw said they get caught in the middle.

Crenshaw, counselor at Eisenhower and Eugene Field elementary schools in Ottawa, said shuffling schools and homes is something that’s becoming more common in area schools because of the economy.

“We do have students that come in because of job changes and job losses,” Crenshaw said. “They have to go wherever their families can make it.”

Gone again

Sometimes they move in, and then they move right out, Crenshaw said.

But teachers do the best they can, she said.

“Sometimes we get them here and we get them settled, and they’re gone again,” she said.

That’s just something Ottawa Superintendent Dean Katt said the district has to be able to deal with.

“In elementary, they work with those kids and families and try to get them acclimated to the school and the policies,” Katt said.

He said academics usually are the biggest issue as teachers must try to figure out where the students are in the coursework — especially if they join late in the semester.

“I know that the teachers spend a lot of time assessing that,” he said. “It is challenging.”

Adjustment

problems

If impacts families, it impacts students.

That’s why Wellsville Superintendent Denise O’Dea said it’s important to meet with new families to help them adjust to the new school environment.

“I would think it would be extremely hard on the students and their families,” O’Dea said.

O’Dea said new students might have difficulty adjusting to their new schools — falling behind in class  because of a lack of sleep or financial problems that are happening at home.

“There could be a whole range of issues — could see some discipline issues, could see some social issues, could see some attachment issues,” O’Dea said.

And these problems aren’t going away any time soon, O’Dea said.

“I think until the economy more fully recovers, we will continue to see the move-ins and the move-outs,” she said. “The job market and job situation is too unstable at this time.”

Support systems

Resources are available for struggling families, West Franklin Superintendent Dotson Bradbury says.

And when a student transfers to the West Franklin School District, Bradbury said school personnel try to help out as much as possible.

“We have school personnel get them acquainted with the new school and their teachers,” he said. “If there are family issues, the school social worker assists the family in making contact with social support systems in the area if they need such supports.”

Sometimes the support might come from school counselors, Central Heights Superintendent Jim Reece said — especially in terms of academics.

“We enroll the students, and the counselor requests academic records from the previous school to see where the student is academically,” he said.

Reece said his district is experiencing an increase in transfers this year, which he says may cause stress on families.

“I believe society is more transient than it used to be,” he said.

Staying positive

Crenshaw never had to switch schools growing up.

But she said it can be like taking on a new job or changing careers.

“I think it depends on the student,” she said. “Any time anyone is changing positions, it can be difficult.”

But she said she — and other school personnel — just try to stay positive and provide as much help as they can to struggling families.

“It’s hard economic times for everyone,” she said. “These kids get caught in some of this.”

Teachers make do, Crenshaw said. They make do with the problems that transfers can have — with homework, with testing.

They do their best to help students catch up, she said.

“All the teachers are wonderful about finding out where the child is and incorporating them into their classrooms,” she said. “It’s difficult for testing purposes, but we just do the best we can.”

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