One of the things I had in mind was the huge need for providing, developing, and coordinating mental health and behavioral supports for students during the summer, the "down time" between academic school years. One of my frustrations historically has been the amount of deprogramming and processing that must occur with many students each fall just to roll back into a functional mode. For many of these students high school provides only a daily band-aid approach. By layering in a multitude of supports, experiences, and counseling in a safe environment, and providing family members the opportunity for concurrent counseling around anger management, communication, and alcohol and other drug issues, we hoped to accelerate student socialization and further the development of each student's "habits of mind".
A critical element I found in starting this kind of program was front loading as much time as possible for developing the program's community collaborations, volunteers, and "face" time with referrals/families. It's important to do that work before the program begins because once the program gets going, things roll along fast. I feel like we just scratched the surface this first year. We have lots of plans for next year, the most intriguing of which will be working in youth shelters and putting at-risk students in positions as role models. We want to build on our strengths and reinforce good work while always focusing on actively engaging the students."