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LETTERS

School social workers are heroes

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Paul Batson

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 4-10 was recognized as National School Social Workers Week across the country. It was a time to honor and recognize the hard work of people who hold this essential position in our schools. Because so much of their work happens behind the scenes, many people don't realize their vital role in our schools.

School social workers are responsible for serving students in our schools by making sure that the needs of the whole person are met. If a student doesn't have adequate school supplies, a school social worker makes sure they have what they need. If a student is having a crisis situation — such as the death of someone close, a mental health care need, a difficult home life, housing or shelter needs, or face another emergency — school social workers facilitate the process that helps meet the student’s needs.

School social workers help develop response plans for emergency and crisis situations at school and are part of the first line of response when a student has a mental or behavioral health emergency at school. They meet with students, families and school staff to help find the best way to make sure students have the best opportunity to learn and interact with others. In the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools, and in many other school districts, one school social worker is also responsible for administering to the needs of the homeless children who live in the district. ECPPS has identified more than 100 children who have been or are currently homeless this school year.

School social workers are often on the phone before the school day starts and long after the school day ends managing situations for our students. They take time during their school day to visit a student at lunch who they know has had a difficult time. They even deliver Christmas gifts to families in need after their candlelight communion service on Christmas Eve.

How do I know so much about the role of school social workers? I know because I'm husband to one of the two school social workers for ECPPS. Liz Batson (my wife) and Midge Hudyma work tirelessly to serve six schools each. They also share one school, and Liz serves the homeless children in the school district. If funding were available, the recommendation is that there be at least one school social worker for every school. So you can see that their workload is extreme. But I can say that I have never seen two people with so much capacity for compassion and concern, with the ability to effectively meet the needs of students, as I do in our two school social workers in ECPPS.

They'd prefer to stay behind the scenes and just do their job without recognition. But their work should be noted and appreciated because they're making a big difference in the lives of so many students every day.

Paul Batson

Elizabeth City

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