Haverhill YMCA Programs Work with Schools to Keep Students on Track

YMCA Regional Executive Director Tracy Fuller. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The Haverhill YMCA is working with Haverhill schools to help students keep up or may have fallen behind academically.

YMCA Regional Executive Director Tracy Fuller, introduced by School Committee member Richard J. Rosa, last week briefed the Committee on its 2022 Summer Literacy Academy and a relatively new PASS Partnership Program. Fuller explained the Summer Literacy Academy is geared towards first, second and third grade students who otherwise might spend the summer with little in the way of constructive stimulation.

“If they stay at home, if they are not going to libraries, summer camp experiences, learning opportunities, their reading levels slide back. Their learning slides back,” she said.

Fuller said data has shown by fifth grade, students who are not involved with continued learning activities over the summer months may find themselves as much as two and a half years behind their peers.

The program, now in its 12th year, is led by a combination of YMCA staff and school teachers. Fuller explained it is more than just classroom study. “We’re able to do two and a half hours of academic support and then we provide them with a meal and send them off to summer camp.”

Fuller said students are tested before the program begins and again after finishing, allowing them to track the program’s success. She said 60 students took part last year.

The second program, known as Positive Alternatives to School Suspension—or PASS, for short—is considered a treatment program. It is geared towards students who are suspended for various, non-violent, reasons, causing them to be cut off educationally as well as socially. Fuller said this program provides tutors, recreational specialists and a clinician who can address substance abuse, depression and other issues.

“They come to the program for the day. They have a group therapy session. They have a one-on-one therapy session. They have two hours of tutoring. They have their lunch and then they have a recreation session at the Y,” she noted.

Fuller said the program focuses on instilling accountability which, hopefully, will lead to better choices in the future.

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta, responding to a question, explained how schools determine which students are candidates for PASS. “We look for kids who have more non-violent offenses, kids who are really having social maladjustment and it allows kids to, you know, not have those suspensions on their record.”

Since its inception last October, Fuller said there have been 82 students referred to the program.

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