Tyrone Schools helping troubled kids

With the growing drug problem hitting the streets of Tyrone, the Tyrone Area School District met with the Tyrone Drug Task Force to explain some of the programs available for troubled kids.
The programs start in the Elementary School level and work to help kids until graduation.
The cornerstone of the School District’s ability to help is the Student Assistance Program (SAP).
“We were one of the first schools in the State to be part of the SAP program,” said Tyrone High School principal Rebecca Erb. “We have had the program in place here at Tyrone since 1985. Tony Yaniello has been part of the SAP team since its inception and was part of the first SAP training program.”
The SAP program was established to alleviate a student’s barriers to learning. The SAP program is available to all students to help them succeed in the school setting and to complete their education under the best possible circumstances.
SAP is an intervention program that is used to identify high risk students who are having school problems due to social, emotional or mental health issues.
“We had over 100 students referred to the SAP program last year,” said Erb. “It doesn’t mean something has been done for all 100 students. It is a voluntary program.”
The SAP team is made up of the SAP Coordinator, a SAP Aide, the Elementary principal, a guidance counselor, teachers, the school nurse and parent or guardian.
“We are fortunate to have two trained Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol counselors from the Altoona Hospital be part of our team,” said Erb. “They meet with students who have been identified as high-risk one day a week. The program is confidential in nature which is what helps make it work.”
One program that helps out the SAP Program is the Motivational Resource Room (MRR).
The (MRR) Room provides a positive alternative to out of school suspension. The purpose of the program is to improve student behavior by temporarily separating students who have acted inappropriately from the general student population.
If a student is assigned to the MRR Room, they are afforded the opportunity to complete class assignments for credit without academic penalty and to receive appropriate academic support.
“The MRR program has been a success,” said Erb. “Students are able to get the help that they need. They have the academic support system and have a packet designed to help their particular behavioral issue. The kids aren’t just sitting there with their heads down. They are getting help through the MRR program.”
Since the inception of the SAP program, Erb says that there are some success stories but also there have been some unsuccessful ones.
“We offer many programs through the SAP,” Erb said. “We work with students who need help with anger management, drug addiction and tobacco cessation to name a few. We have seen some students who as 9th and 10th graders who have had anger management problems turn into solid students their junior and senior years. We have had some students with some serious drug problems who we weren’t successful with. The student has to want to help themselves for the program to work.”
The School District has a education and prevention curriculum in place for the Middle School.
In sixth grade, students spend approximately 40 minutes a day for four weeks in the Quest I curriculum which covers primarily alcohol and tobacco but it also touches on marijuana and inhalants. They learn the effects on the body and how drugs and alcohol effects the individual, family and community (ripple effect).
In seventh grade, Quest, Working Toward Peace, two weeks of 45 minute daily lessons is in place. They learn drug classifications, do group work sessions and presentations, do anti-drug posters and study in more detail the ripple effect.
Quest II is in the eighth grade curriculum. The program includes team research and presentations on the categories of drugs and their ripple effect. They do role playing to practice refusal skills and avoidance of drugs and alcohol.
The Tyrone School District has the tools in place to help curb the Drug problem in the Tyrone community. They key is the student. Their ability to say no and if they want to get help if they have strayed down the wrong path.