The mission of the Meramec Valley R-III School District is that every student who graduates from high school will be college or career ready.

To that end, the district’s at-risk program identifies students at risk of not succeeding in school or not completing high school and provides special assistance to those students.

Tools used in the program are designed to improve attendance and academic achievement, and help the whole child.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Carrie Schwierjohn reported on the program to school board members at the Jan. 16 meeting.

There are several red flags that suggest a student is struggling, but the primary place to start is academic achievement, she said.

Counseling

Counseling is a key element of support to at -isk students, Schwierjohn said.

With guidance from the counselors, the district provides assistance for students who need help to succeed in academic classes, she said.

A program known as Apex Learning helps students struggling with completing credits the opportunity to recover credits through a digital curriculum. These students are eligible to work with facilitator, Cheryl Lewis, to help regain credits.

One tool is to allow students to access the district’s facilities and programs during and outside of the regular school day.

Last year, 73 Pacific High School students used Apex to complete 84 classes. So far this year, 43 students have completed 62 classes.

Last year, 16 students received homebound instruction. So far this year, 23 students have received homebound instruction.

Training

In addition to working with at-risk students, the district offers training for school personnel and works with parents for monitoring behavior and social activities.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support is an approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. Last year, 427 elementary and middle school students received some level of intervention designed to accelerate their level of learning. So far this year, 312 students have received intervention.

Parents and community support services also are tapped to aid students.

The district’s ability to identify at-risk students covers a wide range of indicators. At-risk students might include school dropouts, potential dropouts, teenage parents, substance abusers, low- or high-academic achievers, abused or homeless children, youth offenders, economically deprived and minority students.

Even culturally isolated students and those with sudden negative changes in performance or students with language barriers and/or disability barriers can often use a hand.

The district works with Communities Healing Adolescent Depression and Suicide (CHADS) to implement an SOS program (Signs of Suicide) for both middle school and high school students.

Compass Health, formerly Crider, provides full-time school based mental health specialist(s) to work with families. There is no charge to the family.

In addition, Compass Health provides assistance for Coleman Elementary, Truman and Zitzman Elementary kindergarten through third-grade students through the Pinocchio Program that identifies students who are struggling with social skills, emotional and anger issues in order to provide weekly small group and individual meetings that help students unlock the keys to being successful at school and home.

Preferred Family Healthcare provides substance abuse prevention and education training and curriculum to the identified students, parents and teachers.

In 2018, PFH made contact with 4,324 district students, 1,055 faculty, 691 parents, and 216 other professional staff members. District at-risk leaders work closely with more than a dozen Franklin County service providers.

The at-risk program is administered by Superintendent Dr. John Mulford, Schwierjohn, Assistant Superintendent Tom Sauvage and Business Manager Dr. Jeff Haug.

District administrators who assist include Lisa Weirich, Coleman Elementary; David Quanz, Nike Elementary; Keith Orris, Robertsville Elementary; Marian Meinhardt, Truman Elementary; Ketina Armstrong, Zitzman Elementary; Jenna Sladek, Zitzman and Coleman Elementary; Matt Agee, Meramec Valley Middle School; Paul Wright, Meramec Valley Middle School; Andy Arbeitman, Riverbend; Dan Kania, Mike Hunter, Jeff Hermann and Andy Herbst, all at Pacific High School; Stephanie Bechard, Community School; and Channa Ransom, special education.