New Social Worker to Support Students

New Social Worker to Support Students

Over the summer the district hired a new social worker, Jodi Smith, who will work with both middle school and high school students and their families.

Not only is Smith balancing the needs of students in two buildings, but being a social worker is large job covering many responsibilities and a wide variety of clientele.

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) “the primary mission of social workers is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, or living in poverty.”

In more simplistic terms, Smith will work with students and community members who are struggling to help students perform to the best of their abilities while here.

“I like the variety of things I get to do, which most relates to understanding and minimizing factors that affect [student’s] academic success,” Smith said.

Some examples of the many tasks Smith does include helping students who are experiencing homelessness or loss of housing get supports they need, assisting families with paperwork to gain supports they need such as health insurance or state assistance benefits.

Smith also manages the Rams Resource Center–a community pantry where anyone can come to get clothes, food, or personal care items. She also helps to stock and deliver items as well.

Choosing to be a social worker was an important fit for Smith, as she explains that throughout her youth she struggled with “unwanted feelings, uncertainty, and I was often confused by the decisions of adults around me, especially if it was a choice that did not keep me safe.”

While she was fortunate to have a lot of support from trusted adults at school and within clubs and sports programs. In addition, she also had a loving extended family.

As a result of her childhood, and with the help of a book outlining many college majors, Smith decided to be a social worker.

“I know there are students struggling every day in areas of their lives, and I chose this profession to help, advocate for them, and promote hope.”

In 2014, Smith graduated from Shippensburg University with a Bachelors in Social Work. She went on to get her Masters in Social Work, and graduated in 2015. Thanks to being accepted into an accelerated program, she was able to attain her degree in only three semesters.

Before her work in our district, she worked in a community-based mental and behavioral health facility for six years. Here, she worked closely with children and adolescents. For example, she would spend three to six hours a week with each client at their school, home, and/or community setting.

“The goal was to stabilize behavior, increase coping skills, and decrease the need for the service,” she said.

She also worked in School-Based Outpatient Therapy (SBOP), which means she met and provided students with therapy in a school setting.

Smith also stressed that “SBOP is available for students at KD–please contact your counselor or me for information.”

While it was challenging to choose one favorite part of her job here, she notes that she likes working with a team to find more and better ways to reach and help more students and families.

Other parts of her job she discussed were: participation in community meetings such as the Truancy task-force and Mason-Dixon Drug Coalition. She also attends weekly school meetings for the Student Assistance Program (SAP).

When staff or guardians ask, she meets with students, helps make referrals to outside agencies for things like therapy, and does home visits for check-ins and to help families understand the various supports in the district and community.

Smith graduated from Littlestown High School, but was born in Maryland. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and labrador retriever, Naz.

She also loves sports, both watching and participating in them, such as her soccer league. There are, of course, other hobbies she would like to start such as cross-stitching and mountain biking.

In 2016, Smith started an annual tradition with her father after the sudden passing of her brother. They take a road trip together, and have been to most of the states out west–from Washington to Montana and down to Arizona.

“It really gives us something to look forward to each year in my brother’s memory.”