As we continue throughout the school year, we’ve had the opportunity to celebrate the success of our students who have recently competed in the science, history, music and art fairs. I am in awe of the hard work and dedication by the students, teachers and various support staff in the areas of curriculum and student support services to ensure that we excel in so many areas.

While we laud the efforts of our students and their accomplishments, sometimes these achievements do not come easy. I am very proud of our district’s A.S.S.I.S.T. program which stands for Aid and Support for Students in Sudden Transition. District staff responsible for this program are assigned the task of identifying and assisting students and families who are experiencing homelessness under the federal guidelines of the McKinney-Vento Act. These are students who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Many of these students are also considered unaccompanied youth who do not have a parent or legal guardian. These students range in ages from 4 to 18 years old in grades Pre-K through 12.

So far this year, A.S.S.I.S.T. staff has identified over 500 students who meet the criteria. Students are identified throughout each school year and the number increases until the last day of school, only to start at zero to begin the identification process over again in the new school year. In addition to identifying these students and removing barriers to their education, staff work to provide support inside the school setting as well as in the community. Such supports may include school and athletic fees, field trips, senior activities, tutoring, extended day programs, summer camps, transportation gift cards and emergency housing.

The A.S.S.I.S.T. program has seen great support from within the district as well as from private businesses, faith-based and non-profit organizations. If you are interested in becoming involved by mentoring or providing needed items, I encourage you to visit or call Michael Israel, District Homeless Liaison (904) 547-7589.

Spring Break will be here soon to provide students and staff a time to recharge before we enter into district and statewide assessments. Enjoy this time with your family and friends and remember you are your child’s biggest advocate and support in helping to ensure a strong finish to the school year.



Tim Forson, Superintendent of Schools, St. Johns County School District