Mercer Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn has been at the forefront of the effort by the judiciary and the schools to reduce truancy and keep kids in school and out of prison when they grow up.
Since the state educational and judicial systems formed a partnership in Mercer County last January, truancy is down 85 percent in the county. This is part of an initiative by the state Supreme Court.
The problem of truancy is widespread. The state Department of Education reported that more than 108,000 students - more than one-third of the students in West Virginia - had five or more unexcused absences during the last school year.
The children in the Mercer County program had missed five or more days a month. A month has only 20 to 22 school days.
Under this program, the county school system files truancy petitions against the students and in some cases, abuse and neglect petitions against the parents or guardians.
The court then issues an improvement plan, and students who do not follow the plan face probation.
Truancy stems not from problems at school, but from problems in the home, Aboulhosn found.
"These are really difficult cases," Aboulhosn told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. "They take up a whole lot of time in dealing with these cases for us, probation officers.
"We are dealing with a lifetime of issues in these cases and trying to resolve them. A lifetime of family problems, drug abuse and mental health problems are culminating in this one case. It takes a lot of time and energy, but ultimately we think it's worth it."
The judge's experience after a year of dealing with these cases presents a new insight into fixing what is wrong with education in West Virginia.
"We hope we can make an impact," Aboulhosn said. "That impact may be 10 years down the road, but we want to see an impact to reduce the jail population by keeping these kids in school."
Saving a generation from the cycle of poor education and poverty is arduous work. Here's to all the valiant warriors on the front lines of the war.