Where are you located (which school)?
I am a Program Director. I supervise 6-7 of the CIS programs at multiple schools.
How long have you been with CIS?
What three traits define you?
Hard working, Big heart, Enthusiastic
What made you choose social work?
Originally I wanted to be a lawyer–a guardian ad litem. My Pre- law advisor suggested I look into social work for my degree, and I fell in love with it. In my classes, I found that in this field I could actually make a difference in people’s lives. That sense of vocation for the field of social work has continued to grow throughout my career.
What are some of the challenges you face as a school social worker?
Each day is different, which can be good or bad. Having variety keeps your job interesting and keeps you on your toes. But if you had a difficult day the day before, and you come in and it gets harder, it can be tiring. It’s in these moments that the grit of a social worker is tested. We must have the ability to focus in and work through situations that might make others break down.
What are some of your favorite parts of the job?
I love getting to work with other social workers and help grow them in their abilities. When we help strengthen social workers, they, in turn, are able to help their students become stronger. The work of our organization creates a ripple effect.
Do you have a story that stands out in your mind as a highlight of your work with Communities in Schools so far?
There is one story that will always stay with me. While working with a sibling group, one sister had to go to the hospital for a few health concerns. This girl was homeless and was staying with a friend on her couch. We were working to get her Medicaid benefits that her mother was trying to deny her. When she needed to get her prescriptions filled, she came in very discouraged and ready to just quit trying. This young girl was fighting to survive, struggling with conflict with her mother and overwhelmed with needs. That’s when I told her to focus on her day at school and that I would take over fighting for her Medicaid benefits. She wanted to protest until I reminded her that as an adult and a social worker, it is my job to make sure she has what she needs in this world. She cried and told me no one had ever told her that. Growing up, she was always on her own and didn’t know it was okay to rely on people. I sent her lunch, and when she came back at the end of the day we talked about what I had done on her behalf. Within four days we had everything straightened up and she had her medicines. A few months later she ended up moving in with a relative in another state, but when she left she was healthy, happy and knew she could ask for help.
Ten years ago, who did you think you would be now?
I thought I would be a super busy lawyer bouncing from case to case.
What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
The support of my co-workers, staff, and organization
What are you listening to/reading these days?
Outlander, Serial and Undisclosed podcasts
Do you have any pets? What kind?
Lots of pets– two paint horses and two corgi dogs
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
Being a lawyer is still a dream. I think that I would like to continue to gain experience and one day, later in my career, be a guardian ad litem and eventually a juvenile/ family court judge.
What advice do you have for kids who are struggling in school?
You always have a choice. You can choose to make the best or the worst out of things, but you will always have someone who cares about you and your choices. She is sitting right here.
What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
Don’t stress so much and apply for scholarships early
What is your dream for the students you serve?
My dream is that they find their way in the world, that they make choices they are proud of and learn from the ones they are not so proud of. I hope that when they are done working with us they know it is okay to ask for help. I hope they leave feeling that they had support and strive for their dreams.