The new “BVT Bridge Program” includes a specially designed room in which students returning from extended absences will receive valuable assistance in making a smooth transition back to their classrooms and vocational technical shops. The “transition space” was created through the renovation of an existing room and provided hands-on experience for students in the Construction, Plumbing, and Painting and Design Technologies programs.
At no impact to local town assessments, Blackstone Valley Tech has launched a new service for students returning from extended medical leaves.
Utilizing $180,000 in grant funding from the MetroWest Health Foundation, Valley Tech Development Specialist Alison L. Fraser said the “BVT Bridge Program” was developed in a grassroots effort by the School Counseling Department to address the significant needs of any students returning from extended absences due to a range of medical and mental health issues. The program will help eligible students reintegrate into a challenging academic and vocational environment by providing flexible scheduling, individual instructional assistance, and support services to maximize student success.
According to its successful grant application, the new service will make Valley Tech the nation’s first vocational technical high school to offer a re-entry program for students returning from medical leaves. Modeled after a similar program in Brookline, the new service is coordinated by a full-time social worker and located in a “transition space” designed by the school’s adjustment counselors and other BVT staff to provide students a structured and supportive work environment. Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick noted that the grant enabled BVT to hire the program coordinator and convert an existing room into the “transition space” without asking district residents to pick up the tab.
“This is the Valley Tech way,” Fitzpatrick said. “The budget resoundingly approved this spring by our member towns did not include funding for the ‘BVT Bridge Program.’ Rather than go back to our member towns with a request for additional funding, Valley Tech students will receive this valuable service thanks to their vocational technical system’s relentless pursuit of outside revenue sources and its productive partnerships with organizations such as the MetroWest Health Foundation.”
Mental health services at Valley Tech will also receive a significant boost from an additional $25,000 in Department of Public Health funding for the Milford Regional Medical Center’s School Based Health Center (SBHC). Although independent of the school district, the SBHC is located inside BVT and provides services to students with parental permission. The additional funding from the DPH will enable the SBHC to offer an increased scope of mental health services regardless of a student’s insurance status.