The week of March 2-6, 2020 marks the celebration of school social workers week.

“A Beacon of Hope” is the theme across Minnesota and the midwest, as social workers highlight their role in helping students to meet the academic, as well as social and emotional challenges on the road to becoming successful and productive young adults.

What does a day in the life of a school social worker look like?

The answer might change from day to day, but to put it into an easy response is that school social workers are vital links that connect school, families and communities in focusing on the “whole child” as a valuable voice to the school team, advocate for families as well as the profession of school social work.

We are often considered the front line for emotional or behavioral services. School social workers assist to improve school culture and create trusting relationships with students, their families and school staff. Though we are on the front line most of the work we do is often unseen as behind the scenes is where we do our magic.

“School social workers are humble professionals,” says Rebecca Oliver, LMSW, SSWAA executive director, “who often are the voice for students and families but do not always voice the value they add to the school community. These same professionals also take great joy in the services and support they are able to offer. They do count themselves as ‘lucky’ to do the work they do.” 

As school social workers, we get this amazing opportunity to work alongside teachers and other educational staff who are committed to growing the minds and hearts of children.

Each day as we come into contact with the students and staff that we work with, our hope is that we are able to share our enthusiastic passion and mission of kindness, care and compassion towards others.

We are proud to be able to use our strengths to assist in moving barriers for students, staff and families to connect those around us with ways to support them in their daily lives.

As a school social worker I love and appreciate the connections and learning moments with students that I “get” to share and experience with them each day. I love seeing the kindness and friendships that they share with each other in their up and down moments of their day.

I hope that the kindness I share with them makes an impact that they can carry with them through their lives. I am always sharing with kids that I am talking to their hearts and when they are no longer near me that they still hear my kind and encouraging words that I share with them helping them through their days, academically and emotionally through their school journey.

Mine is just one reflection of a “Beacon of Hope,” as I work with others who join in the job day in and day out. A special thanks and hats off to my social worker co-workers at the RVMS: Jen Otto and Andrea Iverson. We all thank you for your time and appreciate your continued support of school social workers and the many other support staff who work in education and our work to ensure student success academically, socially and emotionally.

– Jackie Ourada serves as a school social worker at Reede Gray Elementary School in Redwood Falls

- Image courtesy of the School Social Work Association of America