Saturday, November 3, 2012


I passed my licensing exam! I am now a

Licensed Master Social Worker!

I am beyond proud and a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The next step is clinical licensure, but that is in the future and I’m not even sure I want to do it at this point. Let me enjoy this 3-year macro/mezzo/micro mixture of a job and then I will rethink my options.

As far as the job, it is going great but it’s been slow getting information from the school personnel to do the needs assessment. I have had great meetings with some people already and they have given me great insight! I’m meeting with the principal Monday to go over the referral process for my individual clients. I can’t wait to start working with them and their families to uncover needs and assist the families so that the child can focus on school!

-♥ SWS

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My principal cares!

I visited the middle school that I will be partnering with today and met with the principal. What a fantastic man! He was actually prepared to discuss his needs/wants with me and the executive director of my agency. He was PREPARED. Yea, major winnage, right there.


{Flickr: yourdoku}

He told me his ideas, and I’m on board with all of them:

  • Help collect and analyze data: This idea will need to be further explored as it might not fall within my job scope.
  • Coordinate volunteer activities: Yes, this is way important. He mentioned needing volunteers for chaperoning, events, helping students with projects, etc.
  • Start a psycho-educational group: Student’s get a flex hour 4 days a week. Some use it for tutoring and behavioral things, while other use it to participate in extracurriculars. The principal would like me to start a group and get kids talking, learning how to communicate and feel comfortable doing it. I AM SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS ONE!
  • Staff Development: He would like me to think of some things I can help the staff learn, or train them on. I am thinking of possibly putting together a training regarding how social and environmental issues can cause problems in the academic setting. Some might not understand how these issues can heavily influence a child’s ability to focus, etc.
  • Positive Behavior Intervention: This school implements a system where the students who have had referrals must check-in or out with a staff member each day, to hold them accountable and to build relationships. Mr. Principal wants me to take on a group of these kids.
  • Case Management for the at-risk kids
  • Building relationships with agencies to bring resources to the students and families

As I type this blog post, I was blind copied on an email from Mr. Dedicated Principal to the faculty and staff:

As indicated in our September Leadership Team Minutes; we have been awarded a grant through Communities in Schools to fund additional Support Staff.

We are extremely pleased to introduce Mrs. SWS as our new CIS Site-Coordinator. Mrs. SWS brings a wealth of experience and knowledge working with adolescent populations, as well as family systems. Her major strengths include effective communication, documentation, attention to detail, organization, planning, and multi-tasking. Her past experience includes 8+ years of administrative support and project coordination.

We’re confident that Mrs. SWS will work collaboratively with our faculty and staff to enhance our school.  Welcome Mrs. SWS !

AWESOME. Anywho…I start Monday!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

“We don’t have a youth problem in America…

we have an adult problem.” –Bill Milliken, The Last Dropout

The Last Dropout: Stop the Epidemic!

I’m currently reading this book in preparation for my new job. Bill Milliken is the founder of Communities in Schools, and I am so inspired and motivated by his words. I feel strongly about his quote above. He spoke it during The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future on April 30, 1997. Here is the entire snippet from the book:

“All my life I’ve tried to do everything I could to be an advocate for young people and their needs. If you want to know what I’ve learned, here it is: We don’t have a youth problem in America – we have an adult problem..I’ve never been trained as a teacher. I don’t know how to give a course on male/female relations, or black/white/brown relations, or anything like that. But I can tell you, I’ve seen kids start to eat together in a school cafeteria where whites and blacks weren’t sitting at the same table because they saw adults coming together who happened to be black and white and brown, male and female, eating together and caring about one another. Kids learn from what they see, not just what they’re taught. We can talk about values, but if we’re not living them out, it won’t matter. You can’t give away what you don’t have. If we don’t care about each other – if we don’t have community – how can we expect young people to do any better?”

Um, YES! Preach it, sir. I really could not agree more with his thoughts on this topic. We can teach kids about things until we are blue in the face, but we, adults, have to model the behaviors, too. We cannot expect children to just run with a bunch of book knowledge, especially if they witness adults doing things differently. Adults hold so much power and personally, any and every moment we are around young people needs to be a teachable moment, in some form or another.

Make it count.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Long time, No write.

I’ve severely neglected this poor blog. I am feeling re-energized because I recently moved to a new state and landed a position with a national agency with an evidenced-based program to



I will be working under a 3-year grant for Communities in Schools, a national agency “works within the public school system, determining student needs and establishing relationships with local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers, and parent and volunteer organizations to provide needed resources.” I will be a Site Coordinator in a middle school, providing at-risk youth and their families with encouragement, resources and support to empower the kids to remain in school. I will be stepping outside of my comfort zone for some of the job responsibilities, but all that means is I will grow and mature in my career. So, I will get through the nerves and come out a better social worker. Win for all.

I am also taking my Master Social Worker examination at the end of the month. I took the ASWB practice exam and received 121 out of 150 correct. I feel extremely good about that, seeing as how you only need to get 107 correct.


Also, if anyone knows of any good blogs for school social work, dropout prevention, that kinda thing, I would be mucho appreciative if you shared your knowledge. Winking smile

-♥ SWS

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Major Breakthrough.

Wow. My head is still spinning from my experience today. Being new to the field, I haven't had too many "woah" experiences yet, but today...I woah'd.

I have a teenage client who has been with my agency for years. I'm actually her 4th therapist this year. Her parent's rights were terminated and her guardian isn't the most pleasant of creatures. I am not surprised she doesn't want to talk to anyone. Why should she trust adults?

I've been working with her for weeks and we have not moved past pleasantries, if you can call them that. I've tried everything I know to do, which might not be a whole lot, but at least I gave it my all. Lots of game playing to build rapport, lots of sitting in silence, lots of random questions, lots of validating, challenging, supporting. Nothing worked.

Until today.

I decided to try art therapy, since talking is clearly not on the agenda. It's a layered feelings activity that I facilitated it in a group setting during my internship. I provided her with a feelings sheet with different expressions and the feelings they represent. I gave her 6 sheets of paper, and asked her to draw these items:
  • A feeling you often show to others
  • A feeling you generally keep to yourself
  • A feeling you wish would go away and never return
  • A feeling you like to have
  • A feeling that you can live with but that challenges you
  • A feeling you rarely experience and wish you could have more of
She wasn't very invested in the activity, and drew some pretty basic faces. When I asked her to explain them all, she gave short answers and shrugged her shoulders a lot. One of her faces was confused, another lonely. I started to dig a little, to try and find out about her past experience that she still has not dealt with. She was hospitalized due to self-harm, but no one has been able to find out why. She has been closed-lipped for months and months. I brought up the incident and asked if she was feeling the same way now. As the one-sided conversation progressed, she began to cry, then she became really angry and stormed out.

I think my jaw was hanging low because she has never so much as laughed, much less show anger or sadness. And in a span of minutes! I let her leave, followed her outside. I validated her pain, determined if she was feeling suicidal, etc. She was angry but didn't leave the patio. She wouldn't look me in the eye or talk, but she didn't leave either. At one point she yelled "I'm sick of you people coming in and out of my life." When I tried to get her to open up about that, she was already gone (mentally speaking).

She asked to call her guardian, and I went to alert the school officer about her status, and left a message for her guardian. I immediately called my supervisor and asked for her suggestions, and she congratulated me on this breakthrough, even though the session ended pretty ugly. I often wonder if sexual abuse is a part of the equation. While it has never been brought up, her younger sister was abused, and the statistics show it's likely to happen to siblings. This is only a theory. I could be totally off.

Anywho, my head is still spinning. It may not seem like much, but I hit a chord.