Student truancy proves a complex issue

Tyler Clarke
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Summer break is over, but for some students this will not mean five days per week of class time.

Community Mobilization Prince Albert’s education representative at the COR, Shelley Storey, is seen with the organization’s executive director Ken Hunter in downtown Prince Albert. 

Students are missing school — a complex issue that can be symptomatic of many things, local educator Shelley Storey said.

“It’s really sad when you’ve got a perfectly capable, wonderful young person who isn’t coming to school because they don’t have a place to stay or enough food,” she said.

“They might be a teen parent and they need day care. These are issues that we need to address to help support this young person to go on to Grade 12 and post-secondary if they choose to.”

Storey started full time duties at Community Mobilization Prince Albert last week, filling the organization’s education sector specialist seat at the Centre of Responsibility (COR).

The concepts behind Community Mobilization Prince Albert have been on Storey’s mind for decades and were instrumental in her 1992 master’s thesis.

“My conclusion in 1992 was that we needed an integrated approach to make sure that … students had all the supports that they needed to get to school,” she said.

The COR is just this — an organization that links multiple agencies within the community to address underlying issues such as student truancy.

In her efforts to investigate the various contributors to student truancy, Storey said that she plans on seeking input from local principals and others within the education system this school year.

“If you think of it, who spends more time with our youth than our educators?” Community Mobilization Prince Albert executive director Ken Hunter asked.

With children our future, student truancy carries with it a long-term negative effect in many capacities, he said. 

“The earlier that intervention can occur to bring that young person on the right path the better … That that is our key to success.”

It’s really sad when you’ve got a perfectly capable, wonderful young person who isn’t coming to school because they don’t have a place to stay or enough food. Shelly Storey, education sector specialist for Community Mobilization Prince Albert's Centre of Responsibilty

“Wouldn’t it be great if every single school-age child was in school all the time? Storey asked. “What amazing things we could do if that happened!”

Prior to last week’s appointment to the COR, Storey served as an education representative at Community Mobilization Prince Albert’s Hub table, working off the corner of her Wesmor Community High School principal’s desk at the time.

The Hub table is similar to the COR, but instead of longer-term underlying issues, the Hub focuses on time-sensitive issues within 72 hours.

Whereas she could work from the corner of her desk at the Hub, Storey has had to step down from her position as principal to take on her full-time duties at the COR.

“The Community Mobilization project is a way in which we can make everyone’s lives better, and that’s what inspired me to be there,” she explained.

Storey’s position at the COR was made possible by a memorandum of understanding signed between the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and the Prince Albert Catholic School Division, wherein the two divisions agreed to fund the position.

“That’s pretty impressive in itself, that we got that done and we got it done to the satisfaction of both school divisions,” Hunter said, noting the importance of keeping students in school, both short-term and long-term.

“There’s an old adage … that, if kids aren’t doing something positive and worthwhile in their life, they’ll find something to do and it usually isn’t good.”

Organizations: COR, Prince Albert, Wesmor Community High School Saskatchewan Rivers School Division Prince Albert Catholic School Division

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