Troubled youth finds musical way to turn life around

By Bonnie Dugan – Originally published in the Chestnut Hill Local on June 9, 2016.  Click here to view the article online.

Qutiera Jones may only be 14 years old, but she knows exactly what she wants – a better life for herself. 

After falling into the wrong crowd in the 6th grade, Qutiera lost her way entirely. She got into trouble breaking and entering, was defiant and continued to miss class. Despite these major setbacks, Qutiera wanted better but needed to find her way.

She finally found people who invested in her and who believed in her through Northern’s School Therapeutic Services program at Roosevelt Middle School in Germantown. Qutiera credits the staff there entirely, including Miss Tara and Miss Lisa, for helping her change her life around. (The Northern School is located at 5301 Ridge Ave. in lower Roxborough. Their School Therapeutic Services are currently in 10 Philadelphia Public Schools)

“She really is amazing,” said Tara Wilson, STS Clinical Manager at Roosevelt. “She has a lot of potential to do anything she wants.  It’s so refreshing to see an adolescent be so independent.”

Through the STS program, Qutiera was able to channel her anger and come up with coping mechanisms that worked for her, something the STS team focuses on for the children and youth they service. For Qutiera, this meant listening to music as music is her therapy.

“I can focus more, and I get along with my family better,” she explained.

Now Qutiera is ready to graduate from Roosevelt and move to bigger and better things. This means hopefully attending Solebury School, a boarding school located in New Hope.

“I just want a better life for myself,” Qutiera said. Though she says she will miss her family and her brother, she knows this is the best thing she can do for herself.

When asked what she would tell other children who are entering the STS program and are possibly feeling a little lost, she replied, “The staff turned my life around. Listen to Miss Tara and Miss Lisa. They take time to listen to you. They care.”

Qutiera has big dreams of moving to Los Angeles and becoming a comedian, but first she wants to master computer code, learn how to speak Spanish, learn how to play the guitar and piano and take drama classes, just to mention a few of her goals.

The Northern School Therapeutic Services (STS) program supports children and youth who have emotional and/or behavior problems that make it very difficult for them to learn in a classroom setting.

“I want to see all of our kids have the opportunity to have some success in their life but, along with that, you have to make good decisions, too,” said Kevin Weber, Director of Recreation and Volunteerism.

“There will always be steps forward and steps back in their life, but they’ve learned to take responsibility for each step, and that will always get them to the next step forward. They make me proud by doing their best each day in little ways.”

To learn more about Northern’s School Therapeutic Services, visit Dugan is Manager of Marketing & Communications at the Northern School. She can be reached at 215-482-1423, ext. 1323, or



Northern Children's Services