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NEMCSA: Need for student support increasing during pandemic

Courtesy Photo Shannon Oliver, School Success Liaison, helps a student learn remotely this week as part of the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency’s School Success Partnership Program.

ALPENA — More students are needing support from Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency’s School Success Partnership Program this year.

Kristen Wisniewski, the program’s area manager, said caseloads have increased by more than 25% this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and they continue to get referrals as the school year continues.

Wisniewski said the pandemic has increased social issues, anxiety, depression, food insecurity, homelessness, and truancy with many of the students and families they work with. She said these are the same issues they’ve seen in previous years, but sometimes the feelings and emotions are bigger than before.

“The biggest need that we’re seeing is that they are craving consistency and live interaction and support that everything is so different in the world right now that they’re looking for that constant, And as much normal as they can see,” she said.

School Success is a program that identifies students who are at risk for academic failure and offers them support through services. Wisniewski said they offer formal and informal services to students in school and also provide action planning to help reduce the barriers students and families may have in order for the student to be successful in school.

“If we’re working with a student who maybe has missing assignments, we can step in and help them find out what they’re missing, and help them organize that to work towards completing those missing assignments and getting them turned in,” she said. “Or we can help support, like maybe if they’re struggling in math, help give them an extra hand in going over math facts or doing activities that can help them build more confidence in the subject matter.”

Wisniewski said the increased need has also facilitated increased community partnerships to help ensure all students and families the School Success program works with are receiving the support they need and deserve.

She said the partnership has continued to expand its partnership with organizations in the community to help families meet their basic needs, and has received grants from United Way and Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan.

Those who have questions about or are interested in partnering with the program can contact Dorothy Pintar at 989-255-0006 or pintard@nemcsa.org.

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