Northeastern Educational IU 19: Building Effective Student Support Teams
For 30 years, the Pennsylvania Student Assistance Program, or SAP, has supported schools as they help students overcome behavioral or academic problems that can impede classroom success.
Unique among states, SAP integrates classrooms, schools, and communities to help students stay on the path to achievement. At Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit, designated as one of 11 SAP regions statewide, Coordinator Regina Myers helps every school establish a SAP team of diverse personnel, capable of addressing the full range of needs that students exhibit.
Statewide, 2015-16 saw nearly 70,000 SAP referrals, including about 6,000 in NEIU’s SAP Region IV. NEIU helps build the networks that school teams can access to find the right resources for every circumstance. Students see results in their schools:
Myers also helps schools review data on SAP referral types, numbers, and outcomes, which can guide development of effective preventive steps. In Lackawanna County, for example, many schools are scheduling substance abuse prevention training at grade levels before SAP referrals start to spike.
- IU 19 helps schools partner with community agencies available to offer mental health, drug and alcohol, and other services.
- Many schools form student support groups, and IU 19 trains facilitators in “directing students to respect one another, knowing how to facilitate a conversation, and knowing when perhaps a child get needs to get additional services,” said Myers.
- Schools often develop “check-in systems,” assuring that trusted adults check on the well-being of students every day. “Sometimes, school is the safest place for our kids,” said Myers.
Myers shared the story of one student who was wearing layers of heavy clothes during warm weather. After a teacher noticed and referred her to SAP, the truth emerged. The girl was trying to hide a pregnancy caused by sexual abuse. The situation was tragic, but with SAP intervention, the girl transcended her circumstances, gave birth to the baby, completed high school, and graduated from college.
It was one case among many, said Myers, of SAP preventing hardship from sidetracking the academics of a promising student.
See all IU Spotlight Articles