Need help? Reach out to SAP

North Penn’s Student Assistance Program works tirelessly to help students through difficult times.


Giana Iannuzzi

Having a tough time? SAP is here for you.

TOWAMENCIN – Many high school students have more problems then what they are going to wear today or do this weekend. These problems may involve mental health, family issues, or substance abuse. At North Penn, there is a program to help these students called SAP.  

One of the 17 advisors of the SAP organization is history teacher Ms. Suzanne Daywalt. Daywalt was able to give more background about the program and explain why it is so important for students to know that the program exists.

SAP is short for the Student Assistance Program, and the main purpose of SAP is to help and support students that are in any sort of crisis.  

“These crises can be temporary, like a family problem, whether someone is very ill, maybe there is a death in the family that hits the student hard. They just need support for a little bit because it is something that knocks them off their game or is standing in the way of them coming and functioning successfully at school,” explained Daywalt.   

Not only can SAP help students with temporary problems, the program is also built to help students with long term issues. These problems, for example, could have to do with drugs, alcohol, mental health, or depression. Also, students can receive help for self harm.

Unfortunately, there are many students at North Penn who go through these issues daily. SAP is a program that can help these students, but prospective students must be recommended for the program. You can recommend a friend or even yourself. Recommendations are easy to fill out, and there are many ways to do so.

You can recommend a student for SAP through the QR codes on a number of posters throughout the school. In every classroom, there is a neon yellow sheet of paper with a QR code on it. In or outside all bathrooms, there are blue posters about SAP with QR codes. Finally, around the entryways of all pods, there are white posters with QR codes as well. Students are able to go to their camera and hold their phone up to the QR code, which will then take them to a recommendation form.  

Another way students can recommend someone for SAP is through their Chromebooks. On the new launchpad page that pops up when you open your Chromebook, there is an icon for SAP that will take you to the same referral form.   

Not only can students recommend other students for SAP, but teachers and staff can as well. “Your home office counselors, security guards, school nurses, principals and assistant principals would all be happy to help you make a referral,” stated Daywalt.   

If you want to refer a fellow student to SAP but do not want them to know it was you, don’t worry. All referrals are kept anonymous, so a student will never know who recommended them. The SAP team will know who made the referral, but the student will not.

Once the SAP team receives a referral, they act quickly. With student to student referrals, the team will act by the end of the school day that the referral was sent in. With teacher to student referrals, the SAP team screening process begins immediately as team members work to develop a picture of how the student behaves in school.

Daywalt said, “One of the SAP team members would speak with the student who was referred, tell them an anonymous referral came in, tell them what SAP does, then offer them assistance through the program.”

With teachers, Daywalt explained, “Faculty referrals trigger the sending of surveys to all the student’s teachers to try and gather some information to form or a picture of what is happening with that student.”

Even though student and teacher recommendations are handled differently, all students referred to SAP will be sent home with a permission form that must be signed by their parents.   

All SAP advisors understand that it is hard for students to talk about the challenges in their life. This is why the SAP advisors go through many hours of training to make sure they can help students feel comfortable.  

“All of us went through the state training. SAP is a state funded program. All Pennsylvania public schools have to have a SAP program in place. We went for 4 days of pretty intensive training throughout the course of the school year last year,” stated Daywalt.

Many students have different ways of discussing tough personal information. The SAP training gave advisors many tips and techniques on how to talk to students and guide them through possible reactions.

Dealing with students’ personal issues can be a daunting the challenge for anyone, but the North Penn SAP team is willing and well prepared to help any student in need of support. If you know anyone who is going through a tough time in their life, please recommend them to SAP to help them get the support they need.