School Counseling » Student Assistance Program

Student Assistance Program

What is the Student Assistance Program?
Student Assistance Programs (SAP) were designed to aid school personnel in identifying and assisting middle and high school level students who may be experiencing problems which may affect academics or behavior at school At times, these problems may be related to mental health concerns, depression, suicidal thoughts or alcohol and other substance abuse. The SAP team utilizes a systematic process, along with specially trained school personnel, to intervene, and refer these students to appropriate in-school and/or community services.
How does SAP Work?
The core of the program is a professionally trained school staff and counselors from the Altoona Hospital Behavioral Health Services.  Student participation in the program is usually voluntary and is meant to be a support service for all students.  All information regarding a student’s involvement in the program is confidential and maintained for the best interest of the student.

Students can be referred for different reasons:

  • exhibiting signs of mental health problems including the risk of suicide
  • serious behavioral concerns
  • drop in school performance
  • violation of the district’s drug and alcohol policy
  • concerns of alcohol or substance abuse


Student referrals are confidential and can be made by:

  • school personnel
  • parents or guardian
  • friends
  • themselves
  • outside agencies


What is the Parent’s role? 
The SAP team recognizes the importance of the parent’s role in the child’s well-being and success.  With the exception of emergencies, parental notification and permission is required before any services are initiated.

During the process, the parent will be asked to:

  • return a signed permission form (see link at bottom of this page)
  • complete a parental assessment (see link at bottom of this page)
  • follow through promptly with recommendations from the school and/or agency staff


When to make a Referral... 
It may be time to make a referral if you notice these signals:

  • Severe Drop in Grades
  • Cutting School
  • Change in Personal Appearance
  • Erratic Behavior
  • Symptoms of Anxiety or Depression
  • Suspicion of alcohol or substance abuse
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Threatens harm to oneself or others


If you recognize any of these signals or have other concerns for your child’s well-being, please make a referral to the school’s SAP team.

How do I make a Referral? 
Mrs. Brenda Wilt, Guidance Office Secretary at (814) 224-2106, ext. 3038 or email at [email protected]
 Services offered by the SAP team:
  • Support Groups
  • Mental Health Assessment
  • Drug and Alcohol Assessment
  • Individual Counseling
  • Screening and referral to outside agencies when warranted
  • Mentoring


Looking for some more information. . .Try some of these helpful websites:  

SAP Team Members at SCMS:

Dr. Amy D. Miller, Principal

Christine Rhoades, Counselor

Dr. Stacy Lantz, School Psychologist

Nancy Bush, Building Secretary

Erica Cloud, Nurse

Julie Waite, 6th grade teacher

Ann Noce, 6th grade teacher

Dawn Dillon, Learning Support Teacher

Brittney Jacobson, Learning Support Teacher

Becky Bianconi, 7th grade teacher

Paul Keller, Related Arts teacher

Jane Hoenstine, 6th grade teacher


Brian McKeirnan, UPMC  SAP Liaison

Rachel Hosgood, UPMC SAP Liaison Supervisor

Jason Gardner, Outpatient Mental Health Therapist

Josh Lightner, Outpatient Mental Health Therapist

Haley Mock, Outpatient Mental Health Therapist

Taylor Scoran, Drug and Alcohol Liaison