BEACON of HOPE - School Social Workers: Lighting the Way!
Some years ago, I was obsessed with lighthouses. I visited Michigan twice and took in the amazing sites including the Great Lakes, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Mackinac Island, and quite a few lighthouses. One of the most memorable was Little Sable Point Lighthouse. Before my trip, I researched lighthouses in the area and had a list of ones to visit. Little Sable Point Lighthouse was high on my list. So, I set out with two friends, hiking along a sandy beach to take in the view.
According to the Visit Ludington website, Little Sable Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1874 and contains 130 steps to climb the tower. It is reported that this lighthouse's beacon was visible up to 19 miles out into Lake Michigan. Over the years there have been changes to this lighthouse. The name has changed from Petite Pointe Au Sable; it has been painted and then later the paint removed to reveal its brick exterior; it has known 15 lighthouse keepers. However, what remains is its beauty, a rich tradition, and its symbolism.
The lighthouse was a critical component of mariner life and contributed to the survival of early explorers. Certainly today, ships have computers, radios, radar, and satellite and navigation systems. Years ago, explorers and mariners were dependent on celestial navigation, using the moon and stars as directional tools along with a compass. Lighthouses have also been used for many years to light the way for explorers and sailors.
Lighthouses offered a beacon of hope for seafaring travelers. The lighthouse emitted light as a welcome to travelers. Similarly, the lighthouse's beam offered hope for weary travelers who may have lost their way, were surrounded by darkness, or felt disoriented out at sea. The beam which was visible for miles, also served as a guide for mariners who may have been caught in rough waters during a storm.
The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) has adopted a theme for the 2020-2021 school year. The theme is:
Beacon of Hope: School Social Workers - Lighting the Way.
School Social Workers mimic the work of a lighthouse in many ways.
WELCOME - School Social Workers are meaningful contributors to establishing and communicating a welcoming school environment. School Social Workers promote family involvement, respect and uplift culture, listen with their ears and their heart, and foster safe and supportive school environments.
HOPE - School Social Workers serve students, families, and the school community. In this role, School Social Workers often give hope to individuals who are feeling overwhelmed or feel that life is very bleak. In these instances, School Social Workers recognize strengths in the child or family, offer support, help them visualize a way out or around a challenge, and come alongside them to help them see a brighter tomorrow.
GUIDE - School Social Workers realize that life is full of challenges, difficulties, and barriers to success. Children and families can be faced with a variety of barriers like poverty, homelessness, mental health challenges, lack of access to needed resources, bullying, academic challenges, inequities, and injustices. School Social Workers stand ready and able to shine light into the darkness of these challenges and provide guidance to navigate the storms of life. School Social Workers will use their knowledge and skills to support students and families, leverage resources, and help identify solutions or coping skills needed to navigate rough waters.
School Social Work, just like the Little Sable Point Lighthouse, has a rich tradition. School Social Workers have been assisting students and families in schools for over 100 years. Similarly, School Social Workers shine a light of welcome, hope, and guidance into school communities across the nation.