Today’s students are faced with a myriad of challenges that students in the past never had to even think about. Homelessness, working to help support the family economically, taking care of younger siblings and distressed communities present roadblocks and obstacles to academic success and school attendance. The Trenton Public Schools’ Every Day Matters Attendance Project, under the direction of Mrs. Denise Kreiss, MSW, Parent Coordinator/Homeless Liaison have teamed with the SEED Male Mentoring Program and Heal The City to find strategies to help keep students in school.

What we do know for sure is that if students are not in school, they will not be able to find success in the future. For all students especially students of color, education is one of the keys to success. Victor Hugo said, “He who opens a school door closes a prison.” Every day that a student is absent from school decreases their chances of having a productive and meaningful future and pushes them closer to failure.

Principal Mary Courtney of Trenton Central High School says, Students who regularly attend school are creating relationships and positive habits that supersede their time at Trenton Public Schools. It’s time to make memories, but you must show up to create them.

The Every Day Matters Attendance Project is collaborating with community partners to find ways to keep students in school. The most recent project with Heal The City revolves around placing positive billboards throughout the community to capture the attention of students and parents about the critical importance of attending school on a regular basis.

According to Denise Kreiss, chronic absenteeism is higher than usual due to COVID-19. The Trenton Public School District understands the many challenges that Trenton students face and are committed to trying different methods of getting students back in school. District staff focuses on keeping the students who come every day interested and involved in their education. The district also has school attendance teams and an afterhours All Kids Thrive outreach team that conducts outreach calls and home visits to help provide additional resources to families. The school attendance team is comprised of attendance officers, nurses, counselors, parent liaisons and administrators.

Mr. Stacy Heading of Heal The City is leading the Service-Learning Project with students at Trenton Central High School who volunteered to create the Everyday Matters Attendance Billboards with their own featured quotes. The ideas generated by the students will appear on billboards throughout the city. In the process of developing these billboards the students become attendance ambassadors among their peers.

Denise Kreiss says “I am so proud of the TCHS students who participated in the Everyday Matters Attendance Project. They are our next generation of leaders that are showing our Trenton community that being fully present in education and life prepares us for our future endeavors.”

The project is funded by the Princeton Area Community Foundation and All Kids Thrive Initiative. Billboards are set to go up in four locations throughout the city on March 7, 2022.