Celebrating School Social Workers
Happy School Social Work Week! Mental health and wellness is a core priority at Distinctive Schools, and we are excited to celebrate our school social workers this and every week! Our campuses each have at least one social worker on site prepared to support students and families. We also have an amazing Social Work Internship program.
Our school social workers do an incredible job supporting the mental and emotional health of our students – we are deeply grateful for all the care and expertise they bring to our communities. Our amazing School Social Workers are Chantell Denney & Nikyra James (Art in Motion), Patricia Milazzo & Jenna Silver (CICS Bucktown), John Doroba & Rachel Bryan (CICS Irving Park), Anita McKeever (CICS Prairie), Maria Adducci (CICS West Belden), Ryan Whitaker (DCP Harper Woods), Tyler Jackson (DCP Redford), Jasmyne Morgan (PEC), and KeeAna Lane (River Heights Academy)!
What do School Social Workers do?
“School Social Workers are trained mental health professionals who can assist with mental health concerns, behavioral concerns, positive behavioral support, academic, and classroom support, consultation with teachers, parents, and administrators as well as provide individual and group counseling/therapy” (School Social Work Association of America). School social workers are instrumental in supporting student success; ensuring that all students have access to the strong, supportive communities they need to thrive.
“Distinctive Schools social workers are so important in our communities. Each day they bring hope, safety, and a sense of belonging for our students and their families. School social workers meet students in their toughest times and support them in connecting to their best selves; they provide students with the support to thrive in school and in their lives. We are so proud of who our clinicians are and the incredible work they do every day!” – Michele Lansing, LCSW, Network Director of Clinical Services for Distinctive Schools shared.
The Art in Motion social work team has been working hard to provide quarterly 'Parent & Family Workshops' where they present and discuss different social-emotional and mental health topics over dinner. So far this year, workshops have included The Basics of SEL and Mental Health In Teens. These workshops bring the AIM community together to learn and foster meaningful conversations about the importance of SEL skills and mental health resources for our students. Without the support of the AIM social work team, this could not be possible!
Considering School Social Work for your career?
We are so proud of the internship program offered at Distinctive Schools. There are two options, the Professional Educator License (PEL) track and the Clinical track. The PEL track is designed for students who want to be school social workers, the Clinical track focuses on community mental health and providing specific mental health resources to students and families. Each of our schools in Chicago currently have at least one intern gaining experience in the field, and candidates have the opportunity to meet with our Intern Program Manager, Jamie Bernstein, LCSW, as well as individuals from the school communities in order to match them with the right campus for them.
PEL interns meet with students one-on-one, as well as in groups, and can occasionally work in the classroom as well. Daily activities can range greatly, as one of our internship candidates shared. From doing yoga with kindergarteners, to providing a listening ear for middle school students to discuss the stresses of testing, to working on Individualized Education Plans for students – there are many different opportunities to support students.
Rosie Hankes, PEL Social Work intern at CICS West Belden says, “I’ve learned so much. It’s all about meeting the students where they’re at and adapting to what they need – I love it.”
Clinical interns focus more on therapeutic sessions and individualized care. Interns work closely with the Student Support Team and are able to provide social emotional support to any student in the building. CICS Irving Park Clinical Intern, Breanna Marcelin, works with nine students, and her caseload can grow up to twelve students as she progresses through the program.
“It’s so important to be present in a session with the kids. Being present shows the student that you’re there with them, you appreciate the conversation that they’re willing to have with you, and that you’re there because you care,” Marcelin says.
All social work interns receive guidance and instruction from the school social worker on staff, weekly one on one clinical supervision with Bernstein,as well as reflective group supervision with the Network Director of Clinical Services for all Distinctive interns to learn together.
“It’s been so amazing to get to see our interns grow throughout the school year. In such a short amount of time I have seen interns grow so much in themselves and in the support they offer our students,” says Berstein. “Walking into our school buildings and hearing interns' names get called out by students really shows how much they have been embedded into our school communities.”