by Rebecca K. Oliver, SSWAA Executive Director
School Social Work is a dynamic and powerful profession. School Social Workers bring a unique perspective to the school team. The contributions of our profession are vital to the success and well-being of students, families, and school communities.
As we prepare to celebrate School Social Work Week 2022 (March 6-12), let’s reflect on the profession and the individuals who are School Social Workers.
It is our Time to Shine! The School Social Work perspective is rooted in our training. Think back to some of those core teachings in your Master’s degree courses. School Social Workers are trained to take a strengths-perspective, always identifying and capitalizing on an individual or family’s strengths. Additionally, our work is grounded in theories like the Ecological Perspective or Person in the Environment Theory, considering the impact of the environment on an individual. Likewise, School Social Workers lean heavily into Systems Theory work and have always engaged in tiered work at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. By leveraging our unique training, School Social Workers are prepared to provide services critical to student success.
Shine Hope! The last two years have been especially challenging for young people. Sadly, we have seen many ways that COVID-19 has negatively impacted individuals and communities. We have seen discouragement take hold in our youth indicated by the increase in depression and anxiety in our young people. Likewise, students are impacted by racial inequities, lack of needed resources, violence, grief & loss, and many other factors that contribute to fear, anxiety, and discouragement. School Social Workers stand in the gap offering hope to students, providing mental health services, and advocating for system change that will better address the needs of students.
Shine Understanding! Core to the Social Work profession is the value of human relationships. School Social Workers plant hope as they work to build meaningful relationships with students and families. These relationships are grounded in respect. School Social Workers listen with keen ears for the expressed needs and feelings of the client. School Social Workers make a particular effort to build trust with marginalized groups so that all feel seen, heard, and understood.
Shine Respect! The Social Work profession is firmly committed to Social Justice. School Social Workers lend voice to the marginalized, speak up for human rights, and examine needs (and advocate) for system change. Social Work also values cultural competence. School Social Workers shine respect by approaching situations with cultural humility, respecting the perspective and self-determination of clients, and seeking culturally responsive services.
Shine On! Social Work values service to others. School Social Workers are dedicated professionals who are fully committed to the work of serving students, families, and school communities. It is also important to acknowledge that the work is challenging and can be exhausting. In order for us to continue this meaningful work, we also must make time for rest and relaxation. It is crucial that School Social Workers prioritize self-care through reading, meditating, exercise, time with family & friends, supervision, crafting, and the like. As helping professionals, it is key that we recognize that endurance is needed as we are in a race that is more easily compared to a marathon, not a sprint. In order to ensure longevity, self-care is critical.
School Social Work is an amazing profession. School Social Workers shine hope, shine understanding, and shine respect. It is our Time to Shine! Shine on, School Social Workers! Shine on!
March 6-12, 2022 – National School Social Work Week
Rebecca K. Oliver is the Executive Director of the School Social Work Association of America. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Mrs. Oliver served on the SSWAA Board of Directors and has over 20 years experience working as a school social worker. In her current role with SSWAA, Rebecca is able to support school social workers across the nation and advocate for the profession about which she is so passionate. When not working, Rebecca enjoys traveling with her husband Jon, singing, running, reading, doing home-improvements, and outdoor activities including walks with her two dogs, Abby & Buddy.