Local seminars hosted last week by the nonprofit Start School Later (SSL) drew participants from over 50 Pennsylvania school districts as well as education stakeholders from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. The one-day workshops, “Adolescent Health and School Start Times: Science, Strategies, Tactics, and Logistics,” were held in Eastern Pennsylvania on November 13 and 14, and attracted over 175 superintendents, board members, administrators, health professionals, and community advocates.
Because of changes in sleep that occur during puberty, experts recommend that middle and high schools start after 8:30 a.m. While the research is clear regarding the positive impacts of later school day start times on adolescent health and learning, including decreased teen car crashes and improvements in graduation rates, many school administrators have voiced the need for assistance in implementing change in their districts. Speakers at the Pennsylvania workshops included transportation consultants, adolescent sleep experts, and administrators who have successfully adopted later school start times in their districts.
“When student health, safety, and learning is in your hands, you want to have as much information as possible,” noted Phyllis Payne, SSL Implementation Director. “Many schools have adopted healthier school start times, and workshops like these give decision-makers a chance to collaborate with and learn from school leaders who have made the change. We look forward to hosting similar events in other localities with the help of generous sponsors.”
Support for the Pennsylvania workshops was provided by the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Decision Support Group, School Bus Consultants, State Farm, and Penn Medicine – Radnor, Powell Family Foundation. Start School Later would like to extend appreciation to the sponsors, the panel members, and to local volunteers Gail Karafin, Kate Doyle, Amy Goldman, Cheryl Hertzog, Cheryl Horsey, and Elizabeth Rambeau.
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