JEFFERSONVILLE — School superintendents wear many hats these days. There are state curriculum mandates to follow and local expectations when it comes to graduation rates, success in athletics and the arts during the school year.

Now, superintendents must also wear the hat of cheerleader and recruiter.

With students able to attend schools outside of their own districts, it's not only important for corporations to recruit new students, but also retain the old ones from year to year.

This week, Clarksville Community Schools administrators, teachers and support staff are visiting more than 100 out-of-district students who are planning to attend a Clarksville school this year, or who are entering their second year, to show their appreciation.

Superintendent Tina Bennett was busy knocking on doors Tuesday morning, dropping off care packages full of what she called "Clarksville swag."

Bennett said around 30 percent of the estimated 1,400 students who attend school in her corporation live outside the district. She said it's important to meet new students and welcome them to Clarksville.

"Students now have a choice," Bennett said. "We wanted to reach out to as many as we could. We take nothing for granted. We know there are a lot of good schools in Southern Indiana so we work hard to make sure families know what we have to offer."

In previous years, administrators, teachers and support staff walked the neighborhoods in the Clarksville district to visit students. But this year they decided to go outside the district borders and meet those students and families who choose to go to Clarksville.

Clarksville Elementary School Principal Mindy Dablow led a team of 14 Monday night and they visited 41 students. She gave some of the parents a heads up prior to showing up at their door, but made sure the students were surprised by the visit.

"We wanted to say thank you for choosing Clarksville," Dablow said. "I contacted some of the families I knew to make sure someone would be home, but we really wanted to surprise the kids. I think it's a great idea. These students are responsible for their own transportation so these families have to make an effort to come to our schools."

Middle school administrators, teachers and support staff will visit around 25 students later this week. Clarksville schools are comprised of students from Pekin, Borden, Sellersburg, Corydon, New Albany, Charlestown, Jeffersonville and Clarksville.

Bennett said her district also has a lot of transient students who come and go during the school year. She said a lot of families like Clarksville schools due to its size and smaller classrooms.

"We are a small school community that can still offer a robust curriculum," she said. "We still have all the extracurricular activities. You get all of that."

But from year to year there is no rest when it comes to keeping current students and recruiting new ones. This week, it was just making sure some of those students and families felt appreciated. Clarksville begins the school year Thursday, Aug. 8.

"We wanted to connect with them on a personal level," said Dablow, who is entering her sixth year as Clarksville Elementary School principal. "What is more special than to see how excited a child gets when they see their teacher come to their home?"

Chris Morris is an assistant editor at the News and Tribune. Contact him via email at chris.morris@newsandtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NAT_ChrisM.

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