LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Building a stronger community begins with education and a Las Vegas elementary school is seeing improvement because of a simple electronic device – an alarm clock.
When Principal Barbara D'Ercole arrived at Dean Petersen Elementary School in 2014, as the assistant principal, only two percent of the students through 5th grade were performing at grade level.
"A lot of our students come from high poverty and live in crisis mode," D'Ercole said.
That crisis mode showed at school with chronic absent and tardy notices, according to the principal.
“The most important thing is the kids come to school every day,” D'Ercole said.
However, many of the students were getting themselves up with no help from their parents.
School staff tried many ways to motivate the students to decrease the tardiness and absences, with goal sheets and calendars, but this did not have any real success.
“That's when my ladies came up with alarm clocks. So simple but they came up with alarm clocks and it is working wonders,” D'Ercole said.
Giving students alarm clocks and training them to use the clocks has had a big change on the attendance at Dean Peterson, according to Doris Orantes, of Communities in Schools.
"They get excited if they come to school. They get a point if they are here. Once they have a certain amount of points they can come and cash out for rewards,” Orantes said.
Communities in Schools provides support to these students by eliminating barriers. The organization provides clothes, shoes, backpacks, supplies and of course alarm clocks.
“It's working. The kids are not late and they are coming to school,” D'Ercole said. I want them to be here. I want them to be safe. I want them to know that they can learn and be whoever they want to be.”