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Thank You SSWAA from Michelle Alvarez
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January 4, 2015

Dear SSWAA Board (current and past) and SSWAA Members:

As I move into the position of Past-President, I wanted to reflect on all that the SSWAA Board and you, the members, have accomplished during that time.   I initially joined SSWAA in 2000 when I got a faculty position at the University of Southern Indiana.  Being very passionate about SSWAA, I was elected to the Board for 2004 and 2005 as a Member-At-Large.   During that time, I was chair of several ad-hoc committees, which I am sure  many of you whom I call friends remember.  Projects at that time included working  on national certification, school social work to student ratios, and exploring the establishment of a School Social Work Research Center. I was always thrilled that so many of you stepped up to volunteer on committees. It was a great way to involve members in important issues. Isn’t it interesting that those issues are still with us today?

In 2011 I became President Elect and then  served as the President.   Since 2011  we:

  • Developed and published the first National School Social Work Practice Model    and the National Evaluation Framework for School Social Work Practice  rubric that was written by a team of faculty and practitioners.   We thank the many members who provided input into the model and rubric as versions were presented at various state conferences and several SSWAA  conferences.
  • Experienced both a decline (just before I became President) and growth in membership. Unfortunately  due to the economy, resources to help offset the cost of professional memberships declined as well as professional development funds.  Many school social workers were no longer even able to travel out of state for conferences.
  • Offered free webinars to members for professional development with continuing education hours awarded.
  • Initially developed social emotional learning standards that will serve as a "common core" for school social workers, again with a lot of input from members.  The final product will soon be sent out for public review.

If I have one regret, it is that I never continued to pursue the national certification equivalent to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). However, initial steps have been taken to work jointly on the issue with NASW and look forward to SSWAA’s progress on this issue.


When I took office as President Elect in 2011,  I had the pleasure of working with Rochelle Lieber-Miller (President) and Donna Secor-Pennington (Vice President) who worked tirelessly along with Board members and staff at that time to hold SSWAA together during very difficult times.  Frederick Streeck (SSWAA Founding Member and former Board member) had also stepped in as the Executive Director in 2009.  As I leave my position as President, Frederick is retiring and also leaving his position.    It has been a pleasure working with him, initially as the  Treasurer on the Board in 2004-2005 and later as the Executive Director 2011-2014. Frederick represents the long time commitment that sustains membership organizations. I am grateful to him for all of the time he has invested in SSWAA. Please join us at the April, 2015 SSWAA National School Social Work Conferencesm  where we will recognize him for his long-time services and contributions to SSWAA.


As I move on, you the members and the Board are in good hands.  Anne McInerney (who incidentally    was on both of my ad-hoc committees in 2004-05…just ask her about ratios) takes over as President of SSWAA. I am confident in Anne’s leadership skills and her vision for SSWAA. As a practicing school social worker, she is very aware of issues you,  the members,  face every day. She is very approachable and responsive, so please feel free to let her know if there is an issue you would like the SSWAA Board to address.  


January 1, 2015 also represents the transition of Rebecca Kunkel to Executive Director of SSWAA. At the 2014 SSWAA national conference, many of you had the pleasure of meeting and hearing presentations by our top two candidates for the position. Rebecca was offered the position this summer and began as the Associate Executive Director.  Later this fall she  became co-Executive Director working closely with Frederick in her transition to the role of Executive Director.   Rebecca comes with wonderful ideas on how to grow and strengthen SSWAA as an organization.  We are lucky to have her!


To the Board members who have served alongside me, I want to say “ thank you”! I am grateful for your commitment to the organization and the members. It has been a pleasure being your leader. You have made my job so easy and I have loved every minute of it.


To the SSWAA staff -Myrna, Libby, and Dot; thank you for your hard work and dedication. I know that you put in long hours for little pay. Without your passion, we could not have made such progress over the past few years.


To the SSWAA members, I hope that during my tenure as Board President you have benefited from the work that you and the Board have done over the years.  Your continued membership and involvement are critical to SSWAA’s growth.  Please encourage others to join us as we expand our work to promote the profession of School Social Work in serving students, families, schools and communities.   


So, thank you for so many wonderful years and the opportunity to serve as your President of the SSWAA Board. It has been a wonderful experience and one that I will cherish for years!


Happy New Year and may this be a wonderful year for SSWAA and  each of you!



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