Serving the academic, emotional and social needs of a chronically ill student is a complex and highly individualized process. Traditionally the focus among schools, healthcare organizations and families has been on transitioning the student- patient back into a classroom and mitigating the effects of absences. While the ultimate goal should be to return the student-patient to the classroom, it is not the only consideration in a population that is highly varied in nearly all aspects.

There is not a "one size fits all" plan or process that can adequately address all of the nuisances in a student-patient's lifelong journey of learning. Navigating the complex process of supporting these students adds a substantial burden on families who are already experiencing a sizable impact emotionally, psychologically, and, often times, financially.

Rohr Rockstars believes that individualization, connection and advocacy, combined with opportunities for student-patients to be inspired to pursue topics for which they have passion, is the key to successfully supporting this population.

RR has identified 5 best practices that elevate the academic experience of student patients facing an extended illness.

When in place and working collaboratively, this approach significantly expands the current model of supporting these students, thereby increasing the likelihood of success.

  1. Educational programming designed to nurture the minds of student patients in every stage of their journey, from diagnosis to full transition back into school.
  2. Long term, meaningful connection with an adult who is committed to their academic success.
  3. A central point of contact (Academic Liaison) to coordinate aspects related to academic, social and emotional needs among invested parties including healthcare systems, parents, school, counselors, and social workers.
  4. Opportunities for student patients to find and to explore areas of interest and passion.
  5. Appropriate use of technology to break down the walls of a traditional classroom so that engaged and meaningful learning can occur when the student is absent from the brick and mortar school.

Programming Overview

I.      Active Treatment Programming - in-patient

  • Goal 1 - offer opportunities to engage student-patient in creative and educational activities designed for small group interaction as well as bedside during hospital stays
  • Goal 2 - present a variety of engagement designed to ignite passion and interest
  • Goal 3 - provide skilled volunteers as liaisons to the engage patients and families
  • Goal 4 - identify and establish connection with individual families

II.    Transitional Programming - out-patient

  • Goal 1 - offer appropriately academic programming in the clinic setting - activities designed with particular interest and age level consideration
  • Goal 2 - provide skilled volunteers to deliver activities and engage student-patients in learning
  • Goal 3 - establish opportunities to interact in social settings that bring engaging and inspiring experiences
  • G oal 4- st rengthen individual family connections
    • Academic Liaison and Mentor
    • advises family regarding individual academic concerns
    • assesses need for academic support (ex. tutoring, technology needs, school communication, IEP preparation etc)
    • connects and supports families within this population
    • off ers addit ional educational resources as needed
  • Goal 5 - manage the transition back to the classroom
    • Academic Liaison and Mentor
    • advocate for student-patient's needs upon return
    • communicate with individual teacher and classroom to ensure smooth re-entry
    • mo nitor student- patient progress and transition

III.    Disease Management / Remission / Cured

  • Goal 1 - maintain active connection with individual families through high school graduation
  • Goal 2 - provide advocacy for student within school setting
  • Goal 3 - provide opportunities to other connect among student-patients and their families