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What Do You Believe?

by Rebecca Oliver, SSWAA Executive Director

Years ago, I remember hearing “This I Believe” essays read on the radio. These essays were often thought-provoking and insightful; many were inspiring. The “This I Believe” radio program was originally hosted by a journalist, Edward Murrow, in the 1950s. Later, these essays were read on air on NPR from 2005-2009. Today, the “This I Believe” dialogue continues in written format. You can visit to read from a variety of essays. These searchable essays cover a wide array of topics with titles such as, “Always Go to the Funeral,” “Be Cool to the Pizza Dude,” “Do What you Love,” and “An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man.” The essays are written by individuals from all walks of life, some well-known and others relatively obscure. Some of the essays are written by young people, and the website features a “What Students Believe” section with student essays such as “Finding a Good Frog” and “Being Content with Myself.” According to the “This I Believe” website, their international organization is centered around “engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives.” (

What is a belief? According to a google dictionary search, the word belief is a noun with two meanings:

1. An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

2. Trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.

In thinking back to psychology classes in college, a number of theories assert that one’s beliefs impact behavior. What we think impacts how we act. If an individual believes that healthy eating will positively impact their overall health, they will likely select the apple over the chocolate bar for an afternoon snack. If an individual believes that exercise and good sleep will help their stress level, they will likely make time for exercise and be sure to set a reasonable bedtime. If an individual believes in being neighborly and in small acts of kindness, they will likely help an elderly neighbor by speaking to them at the mailbox or helping them with a small task like moving their trash can or raking leaves.

At SSWAA, we have some core values that guide our organization. SSWAA holds certain beliefs that drive our time and resources as an organization. One might say that our “This I Believe” essay is encapsulated in our Manifesto. While this manifesto does not contain every belief that we hold as an organization, this statement does describe some of our core beliefs.

“We believe school social workers play a vital and valuable role in serving and connecting school, home, and community.”

We hold deep conviction that School Social Workers are vital in the school setting.

School Social Workers possess unique training and a valuable skill set that contributes

to the educational environment. Our organization’s existence is firmly rooted in this


“We believe in providing quality training to professionals as they expand their knowledge in best practices.”

Because of the vital role that School Social Workers play, SSWAA is committed to

providing meaningful professional development training to our members and the

school social work community. As professionals, School Social Workers are continually

building on their skills and knowledge in order to deliver best-practice services and

interventions to their students, families, and school communities.

“We believe professionals should have access to high-caliber tools and resources that elevate their practice.”

Because of the value School Social Workers add to the school team, SSWAA is

committed to assisting members in gaining access to tools and resources so that they

can provide the best services in their work.

“We believe in the value of relationships and the power of engaging with colleagues through professional community.”

SSWAA fundamentally believes in the power of relationships and the importance of

doing this critical work within a “professional village.” Together we are stronger. There

is so much value in learning from each other. SSWAA believes in providing

opportunities for our members to connect with other School Social Work professionals

so that we are better and stronger from these interactions and meaningful


“We believe in raising visibility through the empowerment of our members as advocates and providing a voice for our profession at the national level.”

Advocacy is a key component of our role and our professional values. SSWAA is

committed to providing a voice for our profession through advocacy and action at the

national level. The organization is also committed to equipping and empowering our

members to be active advocates at the local and state level so that our profession is

seen and heard.

SSWAA believes in our profession. SSWAA believes in you and the vital role you are playing in the lives of your students, your school, and your community. If you are a member, thank you for your membership. We believe in you and we are here to support you. YOU fuel and drive our work! If you are not a member, will you consider joining us? Will you consider adding your voice to ours so that we can have an even stronger voice and be an even stronger presence for our profession and for the individuals and families we serve? We invite you to join today!

For more information and to join, go to:


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.

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