School social worker by trade and writer by choice. My interests include social emotional curriculum, school building culture, mindfulness, poverty, school district polity and all things special education.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working within school settings since 2012 with K-12 grade students in the Chicagoland area. Additionally, I also work in a private practice setting with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and seniors.
My Bachelor's degrees are in Spanish Literature and Psychology from Loyola University Chicago, Master’s degree in Social Work with a School Social Work Type 73 Professional Educator License from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Type 75 Professional Educator License with a General Administrative Endorsement from Lewis University.
As a school social worker, I personally enjoy being able to develop a positive relationship and empower my students to overcome challenging situations by identifying their strengths. My therapeutic style depends on the need of students as I use an eclectic approach (e.g., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Task-Centered Practice, and Play Therapy).
Melissa works as a school social worker in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) using yoga and mindfulness with her students. She chairs the Chicago Teacher's Union Clinician's Steering Committee, working for clinicians in CPS towards a healthier work environment and more realistic workloads.
After working in the non-profit sector, Melissa obtained her masters degree from Jane Addams School of Social Work at UIC. Her passion lies in making sure that each child is supported, challenged and cared for in their school environment and brings that passion to school daily.
Michael S. Kelly PhD, LCSW is Associate Professor and Director of the Family and School Partnerships Program at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Social Work. Prior to coming to Loyola in Fall 2006, he was a school social worker, family therapist, and youth minister in the Chicago area for 14 years. He has authored over 50 journal articles, books, and book chapters on school social work, evidence-based practice (EBP), and positive youth development. He is a fellow of the Oxford Symposium for School-Based Family Counseling, and the Associate Editor of the Advances in School Mental Health Promotion Journal. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of School Mental Health Journal, School Social Work Journal, and Children & Schools. He has recently brought his work on school mental health and EBP to researchers and practitioners in England, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Canada, Chile, and Japan.
Michele Patak-Pietrafesa is a LISW-S, LSSW with over 10 years experience in schools. She serves on the Ohio School Social Work Association board as Past-President and Director of Communications. Michele currently works in private practice providing school social work services for college students in Columbus Ohio. She also works as a graduate research associate while working toward her PhD at OSU's college of Social Work. Her areas of interest are school social work, special education and school reform, education policy, and educational equity for racial minorities and students with disabilities.
Ruth Orme-Johnson is a school social worker at James Giles Elementary School in Norridge, Illinois. She earned her MSW from Boston University in 2012 and a Bachelors of Education in Social Policy from Northwestern University in 2009. Prior to school social work, Ruth was in non-profit fundraising for five years.
Scott Carchedi is the founder and co-editor of SSWN. He previously served on the Board of the Illinois Association of School Social Workers and continues to provide consultative services to IASSW on technology. Scott is a school social worker in the western suburbs of Chicago, serving grades 8-12.
Steve Whitmore is a School Social Work Consultant for Oakland Schools Special Populations Capacity Building Unit and works with school social workers and educators in the areas of time study, student engagement, technology use, social media, and IEP development. Currently, he serves as the webmaster for and sits on the state board for the Michigan Association of School of Social Workers (www.masswmi.org). Steve had been a direct service school social worker for over 13 years. He has experience in public, charter and parochial schools. He has served served on the state committee that drafted the current Michigan School Social Worker Rules. Steve was awarded 2010 MASSW School Social Worker of the Year in Macomb County and the 2014 MASSW Innovator of the Year.