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Truancy Court Program Newsletter

University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children & the Courts
Fall 2010
In This Issue
Going the Extra Mile
Generous Partners
Back to School: Fall In!
Character Matters: A Mentor Muses
A Reader Reader Reacts: The Power of Stories
Going the Extra Mile
Once again, in June the First Lady of Maryland, TCP Judge Catherine Curran O'Malley, welcomed program participants to Government House in Annapolis where their graduation from the TCP was recognized. Families, students, judges and staff marked the occasion, and a good time was had by all!

 Barclay graduation highlights
(  Photo, S. Rubinstein)
Truancy court students were on the road for another special activity in late Spring, hosted by Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth. A group of fifteen TCP participants took a field trip to the Judge's chambers and toured the courthouse. The judge encouraged them to consider careers as clerks and lawyers, and answered a host of questions from the enthusiastic and engaged audience.
Judge Silkworth with Students on Field Trip
(Photo, A. Bento)

Thank you, Judges O'Malley and Silkworth!
For more pictures, visit Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's Photo Gallery.
Generous Partners 
Toy Display at Kathryn's Kloset
(Photo, A. Bento)

Two cliches quickly spring to mind when thinking about the TCP staff's visit to Diakon Kathryn's Kloset: Christmas in July, and kids in a candy store. But it wasn't quite July, and a very grateful staff got plenty more than candy.
Kathryn's Kloset, a project of Lutheran Services in Baltimore, operates a warehouse that solicits contributions from major companies, and then passes along its inventory to non-profits with a need.
The TCP requested an array of school supplies, books, toys, and a grab-bag of other things. We came away with a nicely replenished stock of more than 100 items to be used for student and family incentives, graduation gifts, and learning tools. The value of what we received? $6,472.03.
Our cupboard was nearly bare. Rewards are an important part of our positive reinforcement approach. Now, thanks to the generosity of Kathryn's Kloset, we are excited to deliver the new bounty.

As a new school year begins, the Truancy Court Program (TCP) at the University of Baltimore School of Law's Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC) is pleased to share good news about program results, partnerships, and this fall's activities.
We highlight recent data, tell you what we've been doing to prepare for this year, spotlight our expanding list of schools, give the floor to a mentor and to a reader, recognize the generosity of program friends and allies, and welcome you to join us in any way you can this year. Please read along, and come along!
Back to School: Fall In!

A new year is upon us. The Truancy Court Program is pleased to be building upon its success, adding new Baltimore City schools to its roster, and thriving in three counties.

Over the summer, the TCP staff held an open-house for principals and other school administrators interested in establishing the TCP in their schools. CFCC received twenty excellent applications for only eight available spots. After selecting the successful applicants, CFCC held a more intensive training workshop for those eight Baltimore City schools working with us this year: Violetville Elementary/Middle, Hampden Elementary/Middle, and Tench Tilghman Elementary/Middle are new to the program; and City Springs Charter School, Barclay Elementary/Middle, Highlandtown Elementary/Middle, Hazelwood Elementary/Middle, and Patterson High School are all returning.

In Anne Arundel County, we will be at Brooklyn Park Middle and Meade Middle and in Montgomery County, the program will operate in Francis Scott Key Middle and Neelsville Middle School.  CFCC also plans to expand the TCP to four other schools in Maryland.

Measuring Success: TCP's Manager Assesses Micro and Macro

There is wonderful data emerging from the Truancy Court Program (TCP) once again.  Preliminary figures from the 2009-2010 school year show impressive results, with the majority of TCP students reducing their unexcused absences and tardies by over 75%.  For the first time, CFCC also has conducted user surveys of the TCP parents and children, who have provided positive comments that offer a new dimension to CFCC's analysis of the TCP's success.

As the TCP Manager, I measure our success not just in the aggregate, but by individual tales.  For example, there is the student who was frequently late or absent from school, beginning to get into trouble, and facing multiple suspensions before she began the TCP.  By the time she finished the program, she was president of the school's student government!  In June, she spoke at First Lady Catherine Curran O'Malley's reception in honor of TCP graduates.  At the reception, she could not stop smiling, much to the delight of the TCP Mentor who worked tirelessly which her, Anthony Green.

For more...
Character Matters: A Mentor Muses

My name is Anthony Green and I am a mentor - I teach character-building classes for the University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC)
Truancy Court Program (TCP). Dr. Andres Alonso, Superintendent of Baltimore City Schools, was recently quoted in the Baltimore Sun, emphasizing the importance of attendance if we want our children to achieve academically. At the TCP, we recognize the importance of and connections among attendance, character, and academics, and we work with our TCP students to change their life paths.

We are gearing up to operate the TCP in eight Baltimore City schools starting in September, and this time of year when I evaluate my curriculum and reflect on my experiences over the year with the TCP.  At this time, I consider a number of questions, and I would like to share my answers to them and ask you for your own answers.

Read more here for answers to the queries, What is character?  Are we products of our environment?  What does character education mean?  What should be included?  And if character building isn't taught at home, should it be the school's responsibility?
A Reader Reacts: The Power of Stories

Editor's note: Former CFCC Senior Fellow Judith Moran comments on Judge Catherine O'Malley's decision to help arrange medical treatment for an injured TCP student.

The story of the young child mauled by a pit bull "From Trauma to Treatment: the First Lady Steps In" featured in the inaugural issue of the Center for Families, Children and the Courts' (CFCC) Truancy Court Program (TCP) e-Newsletter afforded me a new perspective on the TCP. As a former Senior Fellow at CFCC, I am well aware of the force and efficacy of the TCP's mission to address holistically the problems associated with chronic absenteeism from school.  As a consequence, it was not at all surprising that the child's injuries were dealt with in such a comprehensive and compassionate manner. What occurred to me after reading the story, however, was a notion that I had not considered before-that the TCP's effectiveness is enabled by the student, parent, TCP team, and CFCC Student Fellow's capacity to effectively convey a family's story to the judge and the TCP judge's ability to listen with an empathetic ear. It is this dynamic interchange of a team that takes the time to discover and present the story and a judge who is interested and has the wherewithal to intervene on the family's behalf that unleashes the potential of narratives to positively affect lawyering and judging. 
Barbara Babb, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Center for Families, Children and the Courts

TCP Staff: Gloria Danziger, Senior Fellow; Sharon Rubinstein, Senior Fellow; Andrea Bento, TCP Manager and School Liaison; Anthony "Bubba" Green, TCP Mentor Coordinator; Jessica Stowell, TCP Coordinator; Edana Gerald, TCP Coordinator; Renee McElroy, TCP Mentor for Montgomery County; Sharon Curley, Program Administrative Specialist; Mimi Lumeh, Administrative Assistant

Editing Staff: Barbara Babb, Editor; Sharon Rubinstein, Editor/Writer; Andrea Bento, Writer; Mimi Lumeh, Assistant Editor
University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children & the Courts
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