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Career Story: Public School Social Worker

Public School Social Worker

Job Title: School Social Worker

Type of Company: I work for a public school system in west central Connecticut.

Education: AS, Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Counseling •• BS, Social Work •• MSW, Social Work

Previous Experience: I was a licensed practical nurse in a hospital for nearly three decades.

Job Tasks: As a school social worker my responsibilities vary but I almost always work with children with behavioral problems. Many of these children are seriously emotionally disturbed and have to be placed in small structured classrooms. I am also responsible for the other 600 children in our school in the event that they need my services.

On a typical day I do group and individual therapy with one or more students. I am involved in all the crises that occur in the school. I attend parent-teacher meetings for special education students and act as a liaison between the school, the parents and the community. I teach social skills, anti-bullying and coping skills.

I also attend meetings as needed for some of my students at the Department of Children and Families and intake meetings for some of the children who are referred to outside agencies. I speak to foster families and if necessary set up behavior plans for home. We have conferences with families of students with behavioral difficulties and I do individual behavior plans in conjunction with these. I have given standardized tests to our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. I consult with regular and special education teachers about the problems they've been having with their students. I attend educational conferences to further my knowledge and keep up on the latest interventions.

I attend meetings at other schools that are set up for children that will be transferred to our behavior classes. I work with the juvenile justice system if any of our students are involved with the law. I speak to the children's doctors as necessary and also work closely with educational surrogates who are assigned to look out for the best educational interests of special education students. I write goals and objectives for our special education students to work on throughout the academic year.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: My job can be a high stress job. Because the children I work with are emotionally volatile, there are almost daily crises. The children often attack adults, use profanity, destroy school property, bring weapons to school and throw things. We then have to deal with their parents who often do not believe the school's version of events. School disciplinary policy mandates certain consequences for certain kinds of infractions and the parents don't always want to abide by these, especially in cases of suspension. We need to walk a fine line when dealing with parents.

Job Tips: Even though this is a high stress job it has many rewards. When you see a child succeed to the point of getting out of a behavioral class, it gives you a great sense of accomplishment. When a child can change and feel better about him or herself it is a pleasure to see. To work in our local school system you need a masters degree from an accredited university. You are required to take special education courses and statistics.

Additional Thoughts: If I could go back and change anything about my career, I'd have gotten into it much earlier. I had two careers and I much prefer this one to the other!

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