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CCA program provides families support they need to overcome challenges

Student Assistance Program partners with organizations across Pennsylvania to provide students with assistance.

Commonwealth Charter Academy offers a program that partners with various organizations across Pennsylvania to provide students and families the support they need to overcome challenges beyond the classroom. These partnerships increase the resources that the Student Assistance Program (SAP) can give families to eliminate non-academic barriers that can prevent a child from receiving a proper education.

SAP, which consists of CCA teachers, administrators, school counselors and liaisons from outside organizations, is a prime example of how a public cyber charter school is able to provide an extra level of care and attention to their students.

With more than 200 referrals, including 80 in the past two months, CCA’s program has been rapidly growing by approaching students with compassion and understanding. Anthony Perrotto a CCA teacher and SAP member, attributed the growth to the faculty’s sensitivity to the challenges children face outside of school and the open line of communication they have with each other.

“Those numbers are a testament to our current approach and our ongoing commitment to educating and understanding students while keeping an open line of communication,” Perrotto said. “Our teachers have great awareness of these situations and, in turn, they refer them to our team to be addressed.”

CCA blends its public cyber charter school education with a well-developed family service component. Many CCA students have experienced bullying or other social issues at their brick-and-mortar schools, which makes communication between families and faculty a necessity.

Faculty members can refer students to SAP and students also can approach members of the program directly. SAP then works with families to develop a plan to obtain needed resources so students can focus on their education.

Typical nonacademic barriers SAP is versed in dealing with include:

  • Grief over the death of a loved one
  • Drug and alcohol addiction
  • Previous abuse or neglect
  • Bullying
  • Homelessness

A student also might be referred to SAP if teachers notice they are:

  • Falling behind on their work
  • Earning poor grades
  • Not logging in to courses on a regular basis
  • Becoming difficult to reach on the phone

SAP staff can call upon the organizations they partner with for help, which is an integral part of helping students overcome their challenges.

“It’s important to build those relationships and work with those families, and they depend on the goodwill of organizations in the community such as the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank,” Perrotto said.

SAP’s members recently partnered with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in a volunteering effort that benefited the community and provided participants with professional development as well as the chance to improve communication and collaboration efforts. The volunteering event included team-building exercises and activities that helped build skills related to their specific roles as SAP team members.

The food bank is one of the resources families have at their disposal when they are working with SAP and the event helped to build continuity between organizations.

“It was a great opportunity for us as the SAP team to really practice what we preach because we are referring students to organizations served by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, so it makes sense that we would then volunteer for that organization to help support that mission,” Perrotto said.

SAP partners with other organizations across Pennsylvania to provide students with assistance.

For instance, the Highmark Caring Place in Lemoyne offers students virtual peer grief support groups within CCA’s academic setting, helping them better understand and cope with grief.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, which operates rape crisis centers across the commonwealth and gives monthly presentations to SAP and families about how to deal with abuse issues and keep open lines of communication between students and teachers.

Perrotto said CCA’s ability to provide students with additional resources and connect with families on a more personal level gives them an advantage over traditional school settings.

“CCA has a leg up on typical brick-and-mortar public schools because we are able to develop relationships with families through that ongoing communication,” Perrotto said.

If you or someone you know has a child who is struggling with a non-academic barrier, now is the perfect time to look at other educational options. CCA is an online public school available at no cost to Pennsylvania families and with open enrollment year-round. Anytime is a great opportunity to switch schools. Learn how cyber school can work for your family.

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

November 20th, 2019

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