Attendance Team

The Polk County School District’s Strategic Plan identifies reducing student absenteeism as key to improving student achievement. The Attendance Team is committed to finding a systemic solution to this widespread problem facing students of all ages and grades. Starting as early as pre-school and kindergarten, chronic absence can leave third graders unable to read proficiently, sixth graders struggling with coursework and high school students off track for graduation.

Inspired by the success achieved by the Grand Rapids, Michigan School District (Believe 2 Become, 2016), the Polk Vision Attendance Team together with Polk County Public Schools adopted a multi-pronged tactical plan that entered its first-year pilot phase in Fall 2017. Five area elementary schools began integrating elements of an actionable messaging campaign, Strive For Less Than 5™ Days Absent, intended to activate parents as partners and engage the local community as stakeholders

The Challenge 5™ pilot started out strong and was promoted widely through a video message from Supt. Jacqueline Bryd and Sheriff Grady Judd. Once this aired, the positive messaging campaign gained momentum among teachers and students.

Select Team members visited the pilot schools regularly to gauge what was working and what needed improvement. The schools identified strengths and asked for reinforcements in the way of additional literature, community support, and incentives for attendance awards. 

As we enter year two of the pilot,  the Strive for Less Than 5™ video will continue to anchor the campaign. The outreach will be expanded to include broader community awareness and volunteer recruitment to support attendance at the schools. Each of the five schools will be provided with a variety of campaign materials including a wall mural,  posters, outdoor signage and a  standardized system to award and incentivize students.




Crystal Lake Elementary

Eagle Lake Elementary

Garner Elementary

Griffin Elementary

Palmetto Elementary






Connie Loutzenhiser, Principal at Eagle Lake Elementary, celebrates her attendance heroes by regularly posting progress reports on her Challenge 5™ Campaign bulletin board. 




Support at the District and School leadership level is at the core of any pilot program.  Polk County School Board Members officially launched the Challenge 5™ pilot program on November 14, 2017.   

Attendance Team

Shannon Gillespie - Co-Chair, Polk County Public Schools

Chandra Frederick - Co-Chair, Polk County BoCC

Brett Butler - Polk County Schools

Craig Clevenger - Community Volunteer

Pam Craven, Ph.D. - Learning Resource Center

Kenneth Franklin - Early Learning Coalition of Polk

Matti Friedt - Polk County Public Schools

Amanda Hall - Polk County Public Schools

Sandy Hightower - Community Volunteer

Brenda Johnson - Community Volunteer

Patty Linder - Polk State College

Jodi Miller - United Way of Central Florida

Mel Rowker - Community Volunteer

Rolanda Sealey - Polk County Public Schools

Neal Steiger - Lakeland North Rotary Club

Christopher Sylvester - Polk County Public Schools

Shandale Terrell - Polk County Public Schools

Peggy Threlkel - Girls Inc. of Winter Haven

Billy Townsend - Polk County School Board

Beverly Woolery - Polk State College


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