Two New Student Assistance Counselors Join District

            To better ensure that the District is creating positive conditions for learning, two new Student Assistance Coordinators (SACs) began working this school year.

            Natalie Santamaria is the SAC at Emerson Middle School and Union Hill Middle School, and Victor Roveda is the SAC at Joe Marti Freshman Academy and Union City High School. Their goals are to deal with youth problems and to foster stronger, more positive relationships among students, staff and parents, and a more respectful and safe school climate.

            “Today’s students may encounter a wide range of social pressures during a school day, and we want to make certain we identify students with problems as quickly as possible and refer them to the appropriate programs and services they need,” explains Dr. Delia Menendez, Supervisor of Support Services.

            Ms. Santamaria is a graduate of Stockton University and received a Masters Degree in Counseling in Educational Settings from Rowan University. She is a certified K-12 School Counselor and a Licensed Drug & Alcohol Counselor (LCADC). She is currently pursuing the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) program and licensure at Montclair State University.

            Since she began work in November, Ms. Santamaria has coordinated and provided many services, including: Substance Abuse Assessments, Case Management, Prevention Groups, Crisis Intervention, Parent/Student Workshops, Relapse Prevention, Service Referrals and Advocacy. She grew up in South Jersey and enjoys spending time with her family.

            “My greatest joy is providing services to youth and families in need,” says Ms. Santamaria.

            Mr. Roveda is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University and received a Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Farleigh Dickinson University. He also is a Licensed Assistance Counselor (LAC) in the State of New Jersey.

            He offers a number of services at both schools, including Substance Abuse Assessments, Case Management, Prevention Groups, Crisis Intervention, Parent/Student Workshops, Relapse Prevention and Service referrals and Advocacy. Mr. Roveda was born and raised in Lyndhurst, where he still lives.        

I do not see this position as a job or even a career,” he says, “I view my work as a calling, one of the most important things in my life.

            Both Ms. Santamaria and Mr. Roveda recently became members of the Union City Prevention Coalition, a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to preventing students from abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco and other substances.

            Ms. Santamaria is in residence at Emerson Mondays – Wednesday, and at Union Hill Thursdays and Fridays. Mr. Roveda is in residence at Jose Marti Academy Wednesdays and Fridays, and at Union City High School Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

            “We are so pleased to have both these professionals join the District. Both Victor and Natalie bring a world of experience, education and dedication to their roles and we are certain they have already made an impact, and will continue to impact our students now and in the future,” says Superintendent of Schools Silvia Abbato.