- Columbus City Schools
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Columbus City Schools Social Workers Have Positive Impact on Students and Staff
March 31, 2023 -- Rashandra Collier and Jennifer Peters agree – there is no typical day for a school social worker.
As school social workers, the two provide crucial support for students and staff. They do everything from meeting with fellow support staff and teachers, working with students one-on-one to discuss any life events or stressors, and reaching out to families.
Peters works at Briggs High School, and she said a huge part of her role is collaborating with other staff members to create a positive and supportive learning environment for students. As a support staff member, Peters sees her role as providing students with the additional support they need to thrive inside the classroom.
“Everybody plays a key role in helping our students,” Peters explained. “While our main goal is educating students, we have to look at the whole child. Every student is different, and we want to support them in a way that makes education more doable.”
Columbus City Schools employs 67 school social workers under the Office of Whole Child Supports and four school social workers under Early Childhood Education. These social workers ensure a consistent presence and an added layer of support in every school across the District. Melissa Niemie-Nathan, the Supervisor of Social Work and Mental Health Supports, said the essential work of their roles directly contributes to their school community’s success.
“Our school social workers are identifying and removing the external barriers students face that can impact their ability to fully engage in the classroom,” Niemie-Nathan explained. “When they come into school, students bring their whole lives with them - their experiences, families, and communities. Our school social workers act as the link between home, school, and community. They provide individualized support and minimize the impact of stressors on a student’s ability to succeed."
For Collier, who works at Independence High School, creating a safe space for students is essential to removing those stressors. She wants her room to be a place students can feel comfortable sharing any difficulties they are facing in their lives, even if that difficulty is their math homework.
“I’ve had kids come to me with their algebra,” Collier laughed. “I usually have a steady stream of kids at my door throughout the day with a variety of requests. I see my role as being a safe person that kids can come to regardless of whatever it is they’re going through – even if it’s their algebra homework.”
Collier and Peters are just two examples of the incredible work of CCS school social workers. Niemie-Nathan said she is proud of the work the team does every year to further student success.
“We as a District aren’t just here to provide academic support to students. We’re here to support the whole child and give wraparound support,” Niemie-Nathan said. “Our school social workers are a crucial part of ensuring each of our students has access to an equitable education.”