MCPS Officials are looking towards a partnership with The Landing, a Gaithersburg organization, to support students as they recover from drug or alcohol addiction. This supportive partnership will provide a number of recovery and instructional services for teachers and students.
The Landing already helps over 37 students recover from drug or alcohol addiction with after-school activities such as recovery planning and peer support groups. However, it is difficult to avoid their old habits when they spend most of their day at school, where they can get alcohol and drugs. “It’s a constant reminder and a constant trigger and a constant danger for them to relapse,” Evelyn Saim-Lobos said in an interview for Bethesda Beat.
The Phoenix School, a recovery school that ended in 2013, is a reminder of the major influence schools and classmates can have. These students were co-located with a stronger educational program, so they shared classes, school buses and cafeteria time with other students who were not as focused on staying drug-free. As a result, many students relapsed and eventually, the Phoenix School was left with only three students and closed down.
This partnership aims to fix the mistakes of the Phoenix School by offering a safer and sober environment for students who strive for recovery. The students will be surrounded by classmates that share the same goal and understand the struggle. The program will help around 80 students receive the help and support they need.
The state is offering a $200,000 grant for the new program, which would help cover a majority of the expenses for staffing and equipment. Then, they will select teachers based on the school system’s interim instructional services in order to meet the needs of students who are unable to attend school from emotional or physical conditions. Besides having a physical interactive session where students can communicate their thoughts with teachers and other peers, MCPS is also looking to create an online component that can help students with their problems outside of school.
Although the program has not been finalized yet, it is expected to start before the current school year ends. The general plan is for The Landing to increase the hours of operation so that students can focus on education in the morning and also participate in recovery programs in the afternoon.
Featured photo courtesy of Family Services, Inc.