Every student matters – SAP

GNA CAMPUS- Concerns about a child’s mental and physical well-being are not uncommon; it is estimated that 50% of children under 18 have mental issues that are treatable, but only 8% receive professional assistance. As for physical implications, there are a multitude of children and teenagers who engage in self-destructive behavior, such as aggressive actions and substance abuse.

Aware of the magnitude of these problems, the Pennsylvania government has mandated that every school in PA develop a SAP program whose job is to detect and report any situations that are deemed to be an obstruction to a student’s education. SAP has therefore been implemented in the GNA High School where teachers, counselors, and other personnel are currently involved and interacting with the program in an effort to improve the lives of children in the district.

The Pennsylvania Association of Student Assistance Professionals, or PASAP, is a support program for students that was created in 1990 when a board of directors held their first meeting. Since their conference in Philadelphia, SAP has made it their mission to address the needs of the youth in Pennsylvania and take steps to ensure their wellness. According to pasap.org, the SAP mission is to be “. . . committed to supporting and networking in the areas of prevention, intervention, treatment, aftercare, ongoing support services, and education to all those individuals or organizations who foster this same commitment.”

In regards to the GNA SAP program, previously known as the HOPE team, it is a confidential group to whom anyone may make a referral if they suspect that a student is dealing with issues and is concerned about their condition. The SAP team consists of Mr. Bill Hischak, Miss Lindsay Iacovazzi, Ms. Candice Muench, Ms. Amber Hyder, Mr. Brandon Collins, Mrs. Michele Rubal, Mrs. Ellen Rutkowski, Mrs. Amanda Bruza, Ms. Amy Scibek, Ms. Louise Henry, Mr. Jim Nardone, and Ms. Stephanie Hill. This group of individuals has gone through mandatory special training seminars in order to be certified to lead the SAP program, and they attempt to meet on a weekly basis to discuss matters and try to make their group more effective. 

The GNA SAP team focuses specifically on issues that plague the citizens of Nanticoke, including food insecurity, environmental factors, ill family members, trauma, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health issues. As Miss Lindsey Iacovazzi stated, “The goal of SAP is to create equity in education for all students by removing barriers that are preventing them from learning.” There is even a box present in the guidance office in which anyone may deposit a piece of paper on which the name of a student is inscribed, along with certain behaviors that indicate that they are dealing with a problem.

The SAP team takes all referrals earnestly, and they will monitor students and meet with families to discuss a plan of action that will work to aid students by improving their lives so that they may reach their full learning potential. However, the SAP group will not move forward with matters unless parent permission is obtained; once it is, options for services and assistance within the school and community will be offered for their child.

It is therefore recommended that any student seen withdrawing from family and friends, inflicting injury upon themselves, feeling sad, defying authority and behaving aggressively, lying, receiving uncharacteristically low grades, experimenting with dangerous substances, or engaging in any other physically and mentally destructive tendencies be reported to the SAP team where they will be provided with the help they need so that they may succeed in all of their educational endeavors. 

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