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Student Assistance Program

Student Assistance Program

Being a child can be stressful.

Sometimes the many changes and pressures can be overwhelming.

Your Student Assistance Team is here to help.  


The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires the formation and function of student assistance programs in all public schools. The primary goal of East Pennsboro Area Middle School’s program is to provide the support necessary to promote students’ achievement and success.


What is the Student Assistance Program?

SAP is a confidential and voluntary program aimed at assisting students who are faced with barriers to learning. Such challenges may include, but are not limited to, family problems, eating and/or sleeping difficulties, hostility/anger, peer conflict, depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety/fears, and drug/alcohol use. The core of the program is a professionally trained team, including school staff and liaisons from community mental health and drug & alcohol agencies. SAP team members are trained to identify barriers to education, to determine whether or not the presenting problems lie within the responsibility of the school, and to make recommendations to assist students and parents. When problems lie beyond the scope of the school, the SAP team can help parents and students to access services within the community. SAP team members do not diagnose, treat, or refer to treatment, but they may refer students for screening or assessment for treatment. SAP follows state-mandated guidelines for student assistance programs.


Your SAP Team Members

Mr. Kyle Atkinson, Assistant Principal, [email protected]

Mrs. Melissa Autieri, School Counseling Secretary, [email protected]

Ms. Christina Baker, Professional School Counselor, [email protected]

Ms. Emily Behr, Professional School Counselor, [email protected]

Mrs. Elizabeth Groff, School Nurse, [email protected]

Mrs. Heather Miller, Social Studies Teacher, [email protected]

Mrs. Jenn O'Donnell, Math Teacher, [email protected]

Mrs. Maddie Stambaugh, Special Education Teacher, [email protected]

Mrs. Elyssabeth Thompson, Art Education Teacher, [email protected]

Ms. Jerldene Swavely, Drug & Alcohol Liaison, Cumberland-Perry Drug and Alcohol Drug Commission

Ms. Judy Creps, Mental Health Liaison, Penn State Health Holy Spirit


How Does My Child Become Involved in the Program?

If you would like to refer your child or another student for whom you have some concern, referrals can be made by calling a school counselor, completing a referral form in the school’s counseling office, or requesting a referral form to be sent to you by a team member. Referrals can be made by anyone, including peers, teachers, parents, coaches, community members, or by students themselves. Referral sources remain anonymous. Referrals are confidential, being discussed only within the SAP team.


What if Someone Has Already Referred My Child to the Program?

If your child has been referred, someone cares about your child and has some concerns regarding changes he/she may have noticed. Perhaps a teacher or friend has noticed changes in behavior or habits that you may or may not have noticed at home. Maybe your child has approached someone about a problem he/she is trying to solve. Regardless of the referral reason or source, the SAP team will contact you.


How Does the Team Determine if SAP Involvement is Appropriate?

The SAP team reviews all referrals. We gather current academic performance reports and observable behavior information from the student’s teachers. All information is kept confidential. The team then decides whether the referral is appropriate for SAP. If the referral is accepted, a team member, called a case manager, will contact the parent/guardian for permission to have the student participate in the process. Signed parent permission is required in order for a student to be involved in SAP.

If permitted, the team will begin to work with the parent/guardian and student. If more information is needed before making a decision to participate, the SAP case manager can help. If a parent/guardian does not sign the permission form, the team will not become further involved.


What Happens After I Give My Permission?

The team will take several steps after receiving a signed parent/guardian permission form:

The case manager will talk with you either in person or over the phone about your observations, your child’s strengths, and your concerns. You may also be asked to complete a Parent Checklist to detail your observations.

The student will then meet with the case manager to discuss the noted concerns. The student will be asked to participate in the program and to sign permission and release forms. If the student does not agree to participate, the SAP team will not become further involved. Again, participation is voluntary. If he/she does agree, a Student Survey will be completed. The case manager will then talk with your child to determine the concerns of importance and determine what steps could be taken next.

Together, the student, parent, and SAP team will develop a plan of action to help your child achieve success in school. The plan might include services and activities in school and/or services from a community agency. If appropriate, the team will talk with you about services in the community and provide information on how to contact others who may be able to help.

The SAP team will continue to work with and support your child. They will monitor your child’s progress and success in school, and your continued involvement is welcomed and encouraged as your child progresses.


Some Signs That May Indicate the Need for SAP Involvement 

  •       Sudden drop in grades or change in study habits
  •       Withdrawing from family, friends and/or school
  •       Changing friends; no longer spending time with old friends
  •       Unexplained physical injuries
  •       Talking, writing, or drawing in relation to suicide
  •       Overall depressed mood or affect
  •       Defying authority, both at home and at school
  •       Acting aggressively
  •       Lying
  •       Needing money without an explanation
  •       Experimenting with drugs or alcohol
  •       Death of a loved one
  •       Divorce of parents
  •       Family relocation
  •       Relationship problems
  •       Other traumatic events


If your child is having trouble in or out of school, the SAP team can help.

Please contact a team member if you have questions or need assistance!