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Life Lessons: Student Assistance Programs

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 04 2013 04:00:00 AM CST

Life Lessons SAP program

Any parent who has sent a child off to middle school or high school knows these years can bring a lot of difficult issues for kids and parents.

But there is a valuable program set up in every middle school and high school in Pennsylvania to help kids succeed.

It's called the Student Assistance Program or SAP.

Program administrator Karen Kohn, of the Center for Humanistic Change, says, "Kids today are growing up with a lot of different pressures and it's hard for them to cope."

Sometimes kids need help- that's the role of the Student Assistance Program.

It's an effort within schools to take away anything that comes between a kid and a classroom.

"The main goal is to identify barriers to learning and to remove those barriers so they can succeed in school," says Kohn.

SAP is designed to help school personnel identify and deal with a range of issues from substance abuse to mental health problems to cyber bulling.

"When we were bullied in school, we could get away from it. They can't get away from it," Kohn explains.

Christine Schuebel is school psychologist and SAP coordinator in the Catasauqua Area School District.

"When a referral comes into our student assistance team, the abillity to mobilize and respond is very quick," says Schuebel.

SAP coordinators partner with parents to find resources that can help. But for parents, the idea can be scary.

Schuebel says it doesn't have to be. "They don't have to go it alone. There's a group of caring training professionals that can help them."

Kohn wants parents to know that SAP team members are a great resource.

"They recognize that the issues that are being discussed are sensitive issues. They're non-judgmental and they just want to see the best for your kid," Kohn adds.

New Jersey has a similar program set up with the same goals in mind.

Actually, the SAP concept first started in the 1980's and quickly spread across the country.