Massachusetts Community Remembers Soldier Through Check & Connect

Thu Nov 15 2018
Check & Connect trainees in Amesbury, Massachusetts with trainer Jana Hallas from ICI.

On November 11, our nation commemorated Veterans Day in many ways. Earlier this fall, one community in Amesbury, Massachusetts, came together to remember a local soldier by starting a Check & Connect (C&C) program at his former school. Sgt. Jordan Shay, a 2005 Amesbury High School graduate, was killed in Iraq. In one of his last letters home, he asked his mother to start a scholarship in his name should anything happen to him. In the letter, he specifically requested that the scholarship be need-based, and that recipients of the scholarship be those who want to change the world, such as students pursuing a career as a firefighter or police officer. His legacy lives on through the Jordan Shay Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has been administered by the Amesbury Educational Foundation, Inc. since 2009.

The Jordan Shay Memorial Scholarship Fund has now funded a project called Champions For Children - Check And Connect. Project staff from the Amesbury Police Department and the Amesbury Public School district are being trained to implement C&C, a research-based intervention that ICI developed for K-12 students who show warning signs of disengagement with school and who are at risk of dropping out. At the core of C&C is a trusting relationship between a student and a caring, trained mentor who both advocates for and challenges the student to keep education relevant. The goals are to decrease truancy, behavior referrals, and dropout rates while increasing attendance, school persistence, school completion, and quality of life. The work of C&C brings communities together to support students' success, while providing structured mentoring for students and families for at least two years, functioning as liaisons between home and school and striving to build constructive family-school relationships.

"I was very fortunate to be able to work with the staff of Amesbury Public Schools as they began their work with Champions for Children," says C&C trainer Jana Hallas (pictured in front row, third from left). "This training was not only unique in its funding source, but also with the inclusion of police officers to serve as Check & Connect mentors. I look forward to my continued work with them as they work to improve education outcomes for the students of Amesbury. I was honored to work with the Amesbury Educational Foundation, Inc. to fulfill the wishes of Sgt. Shay."