"Making A Difference -
One Student At A Time"





Association of
Student Assistance Professionals 

Log in


  • Friday, December 16, 2016 3:05 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    The Drug Enforcement Administration and Discovery Education Invite Teens to Create Original Public Service Announcements on the Dangers of Opioid Misuse for Chance to Win up to a $10,000 Scholarship and Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the DEA Training Academy at Quantico

    Washington, D.C. and Silver Spring, MD (December 12, 2016) – Prescription opioid misuse has reached epidemic levels ― with hospitalizations spiking among children and teens for opioid painkiller overdoses in recent years.[i]  That’s why the United States Drug Enforcement Administration<https://www.dea.gov/index.shtml> (DEA), DEA Educational Foundation<http://www.deaeducationalfoundation.org/about-us/> and Discovery Education<http://www.discoveryeducation.com/>, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, are launching the Operation Prevention Video Challenge<http://www.operationprevention.com/video-challenge> that gives students the power to send a message to their peers about the dangers of opioid misuse.

    For the first time, the Operation Prevention Video Challenge invites teens across the country to create a unique 30-60 second public service announcement, aimed to reach other teens about this widespread issue. The question: “If your friends were going to watch ONE video that made them think twice about misusing prescription opioids, what would that video be?”

    The challenge is part of a joint nationwide education initiative called Operation Prevention that educates students about the science behind addiction and its impact on the brain and body. Available at no cost, the program’s resources help initiate lifesaving conversations in the home and classroom.

    “The video challenge is a great way for students to be creative and to reach their peers,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.  “They can illustrate the science of addiction and the effect opioids have on the brain and body to their friends ― and be seen and heard in ways that adults cannot ― and help tackle this epidemic.”

    A panel of judges from Discovery Education and the DEA, as well as community leaders, educators, and communications experts, will select the winners for three DEA Educational Foundation scholarships. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, the second place winner will receive $5,000, and the third place winner will receive $1,000.

    One People’s Choice winner will also be selected through public vote in April 2017 and will win a trip provided by the DEA for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of DEA agent training at the DEA’s Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Winning PSAs will also be featured on-air and across DEA’s digital and social media platforms.

    Students must be at least 13-years-old and enrolled in 9th through 12th grade. Video entries will be evaluated based on their creativity, content, persuasiveness and overall effective communication. No violent, dangerous, or illegal behavior in creating the Entry Video is allowed. Teens can register and submit their entries today through March 28, 2017 at  https://www.operationprevention.com/video-challenge. <http://www.operationprevention.com/video-challenge>

    "Through our important grassroots programs, The DEA Educational Foundation has seen time and time again the power of peer-to-peer messaging and influence. We believe the video contest will not only bring to light the serious topic of the opioid epidemic in our communities, but will also help educate youth about the dangers of these drugs through the teen voice; one in which they will strongly relate,” said Bill Alden, Chairman and CEO of the DEA Educational Foundation. “We are thrilled to do our part in supporting America’s youth in bringing them critical and timely information and by helping them to make positive and healthy decisions ultimately leading to successful and fulfilling lives."

  • Friday, October 21, 2016 3:28 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    October 17, 2016

    Dear Pennsylvania School Personnel:

    We are extremely pleased to announce the 5th Annual PSA Contest for Youth Suicide Prevention! Our previous contests have been huge successes with powerful and encouraging messages communicated by youth around the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, the 2016 winners were honored at the Harrisburg Senators, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games and had their PSAs displayed on the jumbo monitors for all to see! Additionally, the 2016 winners were invited to speak at a mental health rally in Harrisburg during Capital Day. We’ve even had a 2015 video entry exhibited on an international website focused on youth suicide warning signs. Since youth often impact one another more significantly than many efforts we can make as adults on young lives, the Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative (PAYSPI) is once again utilizing this power to engage youth in developing public service announcements focused on suicide awareness and prevention.

    Many of you have been focusing on suicide prevention in your school districts lately as a result of the recent Act 71 of 2014 legislation. We have seen over the past four years how students have used this PSA contest to learn more about youth suicide prevention in their planning process, as well as educate their peers through their exceptional work. With national and local rates continuing to slowly rise, more youth than ever are talking about suicide, and we hope that your school will join us in the prevention conversation.

    Additionally, this year offers the students an opportunity to create a PSA for a national suicide prevention campaign. Based on research on what people can do to keep others safe, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline created the #BeThe1To campaign. The Lifeline is looking for PSAs which illustrate this messaging. See the rules for submission on our website listed below for more details.

    We are seeking your support to disseminate information about this important step to reducing lives lost to youth suicide in your schools. Please share the information with your administrators and then spread the word to students to get involved! The attached flyer contains details about the PSA contest and information on locating the official rules and an entry form. There are a few important details that have direct relevance to your staff:

    • Each school may only submit one entry per category. We encourage you to consider a local challenge within your school to help identify the best submission per category.
    • Each submission must be reviewed by a mentor at the school. This may be a teacher, guidance counselor, school nurse, school administrator, or SAP team coordinator. We simply ask the mentors to provide some guidance on appropriateness of content (there are national media guidelines with links in the official rules), and then sign off on the application once the final product is approved.
    • All submissions must be received by January 6, 2017 to be considered for the statewide contest.
    • Students and the broader public will vote for the winning submission in each category. Voting will happen online from January 27 –February 13, via the PAYSPI website.

    All of the details about the contest, including official rules, a downloadable pdf of the flyer, the application form, as well as help with guiding the students in their messaging, are available on our website, www.payspi.org/psa/2017psa. You may also view previous winners by visiting our main page, www.payspi.org/psa.

    PAYSPI is a multi-system public-private partnership of individuals representing numerous stakeholders in Pennsylvania focused on reducing suicide in our communities. It consists of clinicians, school personnel, researchers, prevention experts, family members who have lost loved ones to suicide, and representatives from many state Departments and agencies, such as the Department of Education, Department of Health, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We invite you to check out our webpage, www.payspi.org, to learn more about the organization.

    We are excited to receive a record number of submissions this year and are eager to see how Pennsylvanian youth use their creativity to once again develop exceptional and powerful messages to help reduce youth suicide in the Commonwealth.

    Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Rose Milani at 215-503-6456 or rose.milani@jefferson.edu.


    Matthew B. Wintersteen, Ph.D.
    Co-Chair, Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative
    Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior
    Thomas Jefferson University
    Philadelphia, PA

  • Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:40 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)


  • Saturday, August 27, 2016 8:47 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    On Aug. 21, 2016, Judge Reed O’Connor, a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Texas, issued a preliminary injunction in the suit brought against the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education May 13, 2016 guidance letters on transgender student rights under Title IX. PSBA has released an analysis of the developments in this case. See the website for the full article to get more information on the following:

    •    The order and underlying reasoning on merits 
    •    Nationwide application 
    •    What this injunction means legally for PA school districts 
    •    PSBA’s recommendation for what school districts should do for now 

    If and when the injunction is modified, PSBA will keep you informed.

  • Tuesday, August 23, 2016 9:02 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Months after the Obama administration advised school districts that transgender students should be given access to bathrooms based on their gender identity, a federal judge in Texas has blocked the guidance from going into effect — for now.

    NPR.org., Aug. 22, 2016

    Full story

  • Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:38 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Article from the Washington Post

    By Colby Itkowitz

    August 17, 2016 at 6:00 AM

    Katie Shoener, pictured here at age 20. (Courtesy: Kelly Lamond)

    Only hours after he learned his only daughter was dead, Ed Shoener sat down to write her obituary. It felt like one way he could still take care of his little girl.

    He and his wife, Ruth, had been steeling themselves for this day since Katie’s first hospitalization more than 11 years ago. He knew immediately why the police were at his doorstep the night of Aug. 3. Yet nothing prepares a parent for the moment they learn the details about how their child ended her life.

    But if Shoener, a deacon at his Catholic church, learned anything watching his daughter’s long struggle with mental illness, it’s that the disease that plagued her is tragically misunderstood. The last thing he could do for his daughter was try to help others understand.

    So, with stunning candor, he began her obituary like this:

    Kathleen ‘Katie’ Marie Shoener, 29, fought bipolar disorder since 2005, but she finally lost the battle on Wednesday to suicide in Lewis Center, Ohio.

    Then, overwhelmed by the fatherly pull to protect her, he wrote this:

    So often people who have a mental illness are known as their illness. People say that “she is bipolar” or “he is schizophrenic.” Over the coming days as you talk to people about this, please do not use that phrase. People who have cancer are not cancer, those with diabetes are not diabetes. Katie was not bipolar — she had an illness called bipolar disorder — Katie herself was a beautiful child of God. The way we talk about people and their illnesses affects the people themselves and how we treat the illness. In the case of mental illness there is so much fear, ignorance and hurtful attitudes that the people who suffer from mental illness needlessly suffer further. Our society does not provide the resources that are needed to adequately understand and treat mental illness. In Katie’s case, she had the best medical care available, she always took the cocktail of medicines that she was prescribed and she did her best to be healthy and manage this illness – and yet – that was not enough. Someday a cure will be found, but until then, we need to support and be compassionate to those with mental illness, every bit as much as we support those who suffer from cancer, heart disease or any other illness. Please know that Katie was a sweet, wonderful person that loved life, the people around her – and Jesus Christ.

    “There’s nothing rational about this illness”

    It was spring of Katie’s senior year in high school when she first attempted suicide. She was a brilliant student, finishing second in her class. She played soccer, musical instruments and had a close group of girlfriends. She dreamed of going to New York University, which, while only 120 miles from the scrappy blue-collar town of Scranton where she’d grown up, felt a world away.

    A young Katie with her parents Ed and Ruth Shoener. (Photo courtesy: The Shoeners)

    Her parents were away the weekend Katie swallowed a handful of pills. They didn’t know she had been quietly suffering, though they found out later that she’d been cutting herself for about a year, covering the scars on her wrists with stacks of bracelets.

    In their small, closeknit community little is kept secret, and everyone at church and at school knew Katie had tried to kill herself. And in those early days, with the diagnosis of bipolar still raw, the Shoeners carried the shame too often associated with mental illness.

    “No one came up to me or Ruth and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ If she’d gotten in an accident they would have said kind things, but now everyone knew and no one looked at us, like it was a character flaw,” Shoener said in an interview. “We felt shamed, we felt like maybe we weren’t good parents. They didn’t know what to say. As a society we don’t know how to talk to each other about this. We don’t have a language for how to talk about mental illness.”

    Around 5 million Americans, or 2.6 percent of the population, have a bipolar disorder diagnosis, but only around half seek treatment in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

    Katie was one who did. The rest of her life was a cycle of therapy, medications and hospital stays. She would stabilize and resume her otherwise full and ambitious life, only to have her bipolar resurface.

    “Everyone loved Katie, if you met Katie you couldn’t help but love her. She was vibrant,” Shoener said, his voice catching on the adjective. “There’s nothing rational about this illness. Something in her mind told her she was a terrible person and everybody hated her.”

    Katie’s childhood best friend, Kelly Lamond, said Katie was always looking for ways to make others feel special. She was her friends’ biggest cheerleader. She was “an amazing human,” Lamond said.

    “She woke up every day fighting to be happy,” Lamond said. “It breaks my heart. It makes my heart heavy that she carried that every day.”

    Katie’s 26th birthday dinner with her closest girlfriends. L to R: Katie Shoener, Rosetta Walsh, Kelly Lamond, Christina Gammaitoni, Michelle Conaboy and Molly Hedden. (Courtesy: Kelly Lamond)

    “Katie was not bipolar”

    Katie moved to Columbus, Ohio to earn her MBA at Ohio State University and stayed there for a job. But after another breakdown, she quit, telling the company they deserved a better employee. Without a job, she’d sit alone in her apartment and ruminate. As is the curse of mental illness, her mind was an endless cycle of irrational and negative self-talk. Her parents urged her to move back to Scranton, but she said going home would feel like failing, like falling short of her dreams.

    But recently, she had decided to make a change. She planned to move across the country to live with her older brother and his family in San Diego. She adored her nieces and nephews. Her family and friends were hopeful that she’d finally find peace in the temperate climate and proximity to the kids.

    But two weeks ago, on a Wednesday evening, Katie sat in her car in a remote spot in her apartment parking lot and shot herself. The police told the Shoeners they’d found just a brief note: “This life is not for me,” Katie wrote. She added, “Take care of Mary” — her dog.

    Katie and her parents often spoke about how little society really understands mental illness. That it’s not a weakness or a moral failing. That it’s a very real, potentially fatal, disease. Katie would tell her parents that she didn’t want to die, she didn’t want to hurt them. But the illness, Shoener said, is “evil.”

    Shoener is a deeply religious man, and for a long time suicide was viewed as a sin in Catholicism. But in the last two decades, there’s been a greater acceptance from the the church that people who kill themselves may be suffering from a psychological issue beyond their control. For Shoener, educating people about mental illness and suicide feels like a mission from God. That in death, Katie will save lives.

    The obituary, and a similar homily he gave at her funeral, have provided comfort to the many people who have since approached him or emailed him expressing gratitude for his honesty about what Katie endured.

    And her friends are now advocates too. They’re organizing a “5Kate” run on her birthday this year – Halloween. The tagline for the event is: “Wear a costume, but don’t mask mental illness.”

    “God will use this death to help others come out of the shadows. To help people to find a way to talk to each other about this illness,” Shoener said. “Katie was not bipolar. She was a wonderful girl who had bipolar disorder.”

    Read more mental health awareness coverage from Inspired Life:

    I told the truth about my sister’s suicide in her obituary so that others might choose to live

    Suffering Out Loud: People are coming out with their mental issue to end stigma

    Kids hand him their suicide notes. Now this musician has 120 of their names tattooed on his arm

    His mom publicly compared him to killer Adam Lanza. Now the teen is opening up about his bipolar disorder.

  • Wednesday, August 17, 2016 11:26 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Twelve local schools held Mini-THONs during the 2015-16 school year and in doing so helped raise more than $5.5 million for Four Diamonds, an organization that helps children with cancer.
    York Dispatch
    Full story

  • Friday, August 12, 2016 8:04 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    The PDE Office of Safe School's School Climate Leadership Initiative (SCLI) is a new effort focused on building capacity for school climate leadership in Commonwealth through the establishment of networked learning communities focused on building safer, more supportive schools.    This year, SCLI will provide an opportunity for individuals to be trained in the National School Climate Center's (NSCC) School Climate Improvement Process.  Trainer candidates, from each of Pennsylvania’s Intermediate Units, are currently participating in NSCC’s online learning modules, in-person trainings and ongoing coaching. These trainer candidates, known as School Climate Regional Coordinators (SCRCs), will be working with at least 2 building level school climate improvement teams (newly formed or existing teams/committees). 

    Schools have many initiatives, curricula, programs and strategies in place which address school climate improvement.  However, they often report a need to identify and utilize an organized process (best practice) to do this important work.  When a strategic process is not utilized the result can be another "program de jour" based on the reaction to data or an isolated incident.
    The NSCC School Climate Improvement Process is not a program and most importantly involves the five following stages:

    •       Stage one or "Preparation" assists schools in forming a team or examining an existing committee whose focus is school climate improvement and obtaining buy-in from staff to complete the process from start to finish.
    •       Stage two or "Evaluation" helps schools examine existing data or collect new data which will help to identify needs as they relate to school climate.  This can include data such as SAP data, PA Youth Survey Data, PA School Climate Survey data and incidents reported on the Safe Schools Annual report. 
    •       Stage three or "Action Planning" assists schools with aligning strategies to address identified needs.
    •       Stage four or "Implementation" involves the actual implementation of strategies listed on the action plan.
    •       Stage five or "Re-evaluation" consists of collecting and examining current data to determine progress made or adjustments needed to existing strategies.

    The NSCC School Climate Leadership Certification will provide SCRCs with a high level of understanding of these 5 stages and position them to provide schools with the support, expertise and guidance needed to create and maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.  For more information, please contact Stacie Molnar-Main at c-smolnarm@pa.gov.

  • Friday, August 12, 2016 7:57 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    On July 10, 2015 Governor Wolf signed PA House Bill 229 into law.

    HB 229 is now Act 26 of 2015.  Act 26 amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in assault, further providing for the offense of harassment.

    Act 26:

    1.       Defines cyber harassment of a child and makes it a crime.

    2.       Explains what occurs if a juvenile is charged with this offense.

    3.       Defines the following: emotional distress, repeatedly communicates and seriously disparaging statement.

    4.       Becomes effective September 8, 2015.

    For more information or to read the law, please visithttp://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=229

  • Thursday, August 11, 2016 7:29 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) is a universal school-based program that focuses on enhancing the interpersonal cognitive process and problem-solving skills of children ages 4-12. ICPS is based on the idea that there are a set of skills that shape how children behave in interpersonal situations. These skills are influenced by whether they can predict the consequences of their own actions; how they view their conflicts with others; and whether they can think of solutions to these problems.

    This is a two-day training; registration will begin at 8:30 AM and the training will begin at 9:00 AM and conclude at 3:30 PM each day.  Act 48, NASW and PQAS continuing education credits will be available (pending approval). 


    September 27-28, 2016


    Center for Schools and Communities
    275 Grandview Avenue, Commonwealth Room (First Floor)
    Camp Hill, PA 17011

    Registration Fee

    The registration fee of $250 per person is available through September 16, 2016 and includes training, grade-level curriculum and lunch. A limited number of onsite registrations will be accepted at a fee of $300; payment to attend will be required by either check or credit card.

    Click here for additional information and to register.


    Sally Canazaro
    Grant & Fiscal Management Coordinator
    (717) 763-1661 ext. 168

Pennsylvania Association of Student Assistance Professionals
PO Box 1254
State College, Pennsylvania 16804 

Email us: support@pasap.org 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software