District 116 Social Workers Provide Valuable Assistance to Students and Families
For many years Urbana School District #116 has employed social workers in each school to help children. These workers provide valuabe assistance to school district students and families.
Assistant Director of Special Education, Ria Merriman, says that the 11 social workers are charged to "assist
students to achieve their highest potential by helping them be more 'available' to learn. This includes many things, including how to be more attentive in the classroom; how to get along with peers and be cooperative within the classroom (and) to increase their self-confidence in their ability to learn." Merriman continues, "They work with families to help them feel more connected to their student's school and to encourage them to become a part of the educational experience. They help provide resources to families, including access to food or clothing if necessary. They make referrals to outside social service agencies if family needs are beyond what can be provided within the school environment. They consult and collaborate with teachers and other school personnel to help them structure their classrooms and behavioral management programs to increase the learning of all students. In general, (social workers) provide whatever is needed so that students can be successful at school."
Merriman says it is vital for social workers to be in schools because they are trained to help provide specific services. She explains, "They help build and develop a positive school climate so that the Urbana schools feel welcoming to all students and families. They help to settle conflicts between the schools and families, thereby encouraging families to stay involved with the educational process. By helping those students that have more issues with learning, they help ALL students learn in a more positive atmosphere."
So, the next time you see a social worker in a District 116 school, be sure to stop and thank them for all the hard work they do.