For the first time ever, Charleston R-I School District will have a school case worker. Superintendent Jeremy Siebert says the new position is a major need for the school and students.
“Any time we have students in need of social services,” said Siebert, “we will have someone here to address those needs.”
Special Programs Director Amy Brown said she has long wanted to see the District pursue this type of position. Recently, she was met with encouragement from team members to draft a new proposal, which was then approved by the Board in early 2021.
Brown explained that the need for social services in our schools is strong, and is directly related to student achievement.
“In our district, we have many students who do not have their basic needs met,” said Brown, noting that poverty, homelessness, trauma, hunger, mental health concerns, and more can have a negative impact on a student’s success in school and in life.
“As educators, we can often unknowingly ask our students to put their personal crises and trauma aside and focus on academic work, which can be nearly impossible for the student,” said Brown.
Siebert says it will take “a trauma-informed approach to help meet students’ needs so that we can then achieve academic success.”
At the April 15 regular meeting, the Board voted to hire current employee Lisa Minner for the position.
“It was important to us that (the new case worker) knew our kids and had previous experience in the area,” said Brown.
“I am hopeful to make a difference in our students' and their families' lives,” says Minner. “I want to be helpful to them and to assist them where I can.”
Minner will start in Fall 2021, and comes to the position with 6 years of experience in a similar field.
Siebert says this new position will also help connect more students and families to the Blue Jay Pantry, which will help meet the needs of more students and families.
Operating out of the former middle school shop building, the Blue Jay Pantry is a recent addition to the school’s offerings. Still in its early stages, volunteers hope that it will soon provide students in need with food, toiletries, and items needed in the event of a family crisis, such as a fire.
The pantry has been gathering goods to distribute, and will soon put their plans into full motion. To find a list of preferred items or to make a donation, contact the Blue Jay Pantry on Facebook, @Blue Jay Pantry.
When discussing the new case worker position, Brown shared a quote that, in her opinion, best suits these types of efforts:
“Every child deserves a champion - an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” - Rita Pierson, educator.