Essential to the success of any young person is a solid education.  Unfortunately, some youth are at risk of losing access to an education that will provide them with the knowledge and self-esteem needed to excel.  Recently, YouthZone worked with a young person, Elizabeth*, who was close to expulsion and at risk of losing her chance to attend high school.

In the spring of 2014, Elizabeth was expelled from school following a number of behavioral issues and having brought marijuana to school. Subsequently, she missed her entire first semester of high school.  In January, she was invited to come back to school, and immediately fell back into bad habits and was suspended for truancy.

Elizabeth initially came to YouthZone after a becoming involved with the juvenile justice system and worked closely with court case manager, Courtney Dunn.  After working with Courtney to develop her court contract (establishing community service hours, etc.), Elizabeth also began working with Sara Barrett, a team coordinator at YouthZone.

While it felt as if the school was ready to give up on Elizabeth, Sara saw that there was potential for Elizabeth to turn things around. Further, Elizabeth had a strong supporter in her mother, who continually came to all of Elizabeth’s counseling sessions, even when Elizabeth herself didn’t make it to her counseling or therapy sessions.  With the strong parental support and love, Sara knew that Elizabeth had the potential to do well in school, if given the right tools and opportunity.

Sara contacted the school psychologist and special education department and asked for Elizabeth’s records to be reviewed and for an ADHD assessment to be completed. After this was done, it was determined that Elizabeth qualified for the Rebound program at Yampah. Project Rebound is an educational, therapeutic and life skills program serving students in grades 9-12 in Garfield R16, RE2, Aspen & Roaring Fork school districts. The program emphasizes structure and consistency in a more supportive environment, fostering a sense of belonging where students feel safe and respected.  It is the mission of Project Rebound to serve students who are identified with emotional and behavioral challenges, called ED (Emotional Disability) toward high school completion.

Elizabeth is now back in school and doing well.  She is also seeing a new therapist and has been actively engaged in therapy for more than a month.

“It’s been great to see Elizabeth gain some confidence and respect for herself,” said Sara Barrett.  “She’s spending less time with a group of friends who weren’t the greatest influence on her, and she’s concentrating on finding a job for the summer.  Elizabeth is a smart young person and she’s very musically gifted.  It’s always a success to see young people come into their own, especially after having such a hard time.”

With a lot of hard work, determination and ability to remain focused, Sara and Courtney see no reason why Elizabeth wouldn’t be able to catch up on her studies and receive the quality education she needs and deserves.

*To protect the privacy of YouthZone clients, names are changed.