Fenger’s emergency federal grant used for “public health approach to violence”

Print More

Fenger High School will use more than half of the $500,000 grant promised by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in October after the beating death of Derrion Albert to provide more support to teachers in how to manage students without harsh punishments.

Fenger High School will use more than half of the $500,000 grant
promised by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in October after the
beating death of Derrion Albert to provide more support to teachers in
how to manage students without harsh punishments.

The rest of the money will go to anger management and trauma counseling
for the most troubled students. Other teens who are less distressed
will be welcome to a bevy of clubs intended to provide guidance to
students and instill them with a better sense of self and leadership.

The turnaround office, which manages Fenger High School, is calling
this the “public health approach to reducing violence.” It starts with
a well-managed school, has counseling and lots of programs for students
experiencing moderate problems and ends with the most vulnerable,
at-risk students who get intense case management, subsidized jobs and
24-hour mentoring.

No official announcement was made about how the grant will be spent,
but at contracts were approved in November to award money to SGA Youth
and Family Services and Father Flanagan’s Boys Home.

As a turnaround school privy to extra resources, the Fenger
administration was already using some services from these organizations
to improve the climate of the school and help students deal with
emotional issues, says Don Fraynd, director of high school turnarounds.
The emergency grant, called Project SERV (School Emergency Response to
Violence), will go toward expanding their reach into the school.

Father Flanagan’s Boys Home did a two-day training over the summer to
provide teachers with guidance on how to implement positive discipline
through praise and encouragement. The trainers were supposed to come to
the school periodically and work with teachers. This extra grant money
will allow them to visit each class monthly.

SGA Youth and Family Services is working with the school to serve young
people who are having behavioral problems in class. In the cases where
students are having severe problems, they will reach out to the
students’ families to find out if the problem lies at home, help the
family and put the young person in the type of counseling that the
individual needs.

Students with lesser issues will be referred to a club. Fraynd says the
school is contracting with a variety of social service programs to come
in and run them. The groups will focus on a variety of populations from
one that is for boys to another for girls to the Ethics Club to help
participants make better decisions.

Many of these clubs have already started meeting and have about 70 participants. They have room for about 100 more.

Fraynd says these groups are being subjected to monthly performance
management meetings where the school administrators will look at which
ones are resulting in better attendance and grades, and which ones
aren’t.

A small amount of the grant also is going to pay certified teachers to
be available before-and after-school. Students who are absent can
immediately make up the time or will have to serve detention.

As these programs have come on board, “the school has definitely calmed down,” says Fraynd.