The “triumph” during these last two school years was found in the little victories that I witnessed. I found myself falling back on the basics of social work, breaking down barriers, respecting the client and family, looking at situations that were fraught with difficulty, and continually finding new ways to help students succeed.
“ I was feeling pretty burned out at school, you know, working as a school social worker. I was feeling like I was spinning my wheels and I didn’t have. I felt like I needed support I needed more tools. And so in this program I did find that I found a cohort, I found a cohort of other school social workers that have been extremely supportive and then I also learned so much about evidence based and evidence informed programs.”
I want to share that the SMHAPP was a great addition to what I already had with my MSW. What this program helped me not only with all the material
that is very practical for me to use in practice, is the that just seeing, hearing and listening to what social work is and how big of an impact we can actually have was a mentality change for me. I would encourage anyone to go for it and do the SMHAPP because the one year we have in internship practice in a school is not enough to learn everything there is. So again, I felt like I needed more. And like others said it’s not just something else I had to do. It was a pleasure to do these things.
Loyola SMHAPP 2020 Graduates Nadia Gomez-Moran & Lisa Johnson Haire talk about their experience in the School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP). Last month, I put together short Zoom webinars with the SMHAPP grads who had worked together in our “dyad” format as part of their 2-year cohort. They spoke about their experiences overall in the SMHAPP Certificate, but mostly I asked them to talk about each others’ work and what they learned from their time together. As Lisa put it so beautifully, “we joined (the SMHAPP Certifcate) as strangers, and we’re leaving it as friends.”
From SSW Charles Barr: “After being on interview boards for several years, I’d like to offer some help. My help comes in the form of opinion, and so please take whatever I say with a proverbial grain of salt. My approach to interviewing is acknowledging the faults in the process and yet trying to give an honest answer as to who I am.
SSW data did that. It wasn’t politicking, petitions, or a serious legal issue that moved the hand of the district- it was data on my SSW practice. Using a well thought-data collection system that was matched by the visual representations extracted-turned advocacy into action, and eventually results.
Schools, although sites of victimization, often are places where students feel safe to express their sexual and gender identities and receive mental health support and services. With the shift to remote learning, many LGBTQ+ are spending more time at home. Students who are not out to their families are experiencing increased stress related to concealing aspects of their identity and students who are out but do not receive support from their family are facing rejection and harassment (Salerno, Devadas, Pease, Nketia, & Fish, 2020).
The school-to-prison pipeline is a system that currently harms our students, and we can do something about it. School social workers have the knowledge and skills – as well as an ethical commitment – to see it eliminated.