Thanks to having an ally for at-risk students on staff, a school is turning around the results for students who were on the verge of dropping out or failing courses.
One student at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey was chronically truant, and it was a struggle to get him to attend school at all. Today he has nearly 100% attendance. Another student is improving his schoolwork and his relationship with his parents is also improving as a result.
Many students struggle with difficulties at home, such as divorce and other family problems, and now feel that school is just a bit more of a refuge away from home.
These positive stories, shared by Ridgewood High School’s (RHS) new clinical supervisor Cayte Castrillon, come thanks to the first several months of a new therapeutic program at the high school that identifies at-risk youth for in-house counseling during the school day.
This extra level of care is a particularly important addition to the district now, when educators have less time, and the at-risk population, though still very small relative to the general population, is increasing along with general anxiety.
Helmed by Castrillon, a full-time employee of the private and accredited therapeutic school Sage Day, the RHS Sage Day program was introduced this fall to help students in need avoid out-of-district placement through the in-house management of their social and emotional issues, like school phobia.
Of the 16 students currently in the program, about half are special education students and half are general education students, and areas of concern include family issues, anxiety and substance abuse. Basically, this program helps these students continue experiencing “as close to a mainstream school experience as possible” and “avoid classification,” said Kim Buxenbaum-Turner, director of special programs for the Ridgewood school district.
By keeping children in school, the district is also saving an estimated $200,000 to $300,000 in out-of-district tuition costs.
“There’s a good five or six [students in the program] that would have needed another placement,” said RHS Assistant Principal Jeff Nyhuis.
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