Social Workers Play Important Role at Auburn City Schools

Auburn City Schools applied for a three year grant to hire additional help for their school counselors, staff and students. An additional secondary school counselor and social worker help students deal with more than just their academics.
With more than 8,000 kids at Auburn City Schools, faculty and staff noticed, throughout the years, some of these kids needed some extra support than just on an academic level.

“This was a brain child of the administrators 10 years ago when they saw the need of the students with their mental health concerns growing,” said Joy Stanley, Counseling and Social Services Coordinator for Auburn City Schools.

So, they applied for a federal grant in 2015, through the Department of Education, to help address emotional, social and behavioral concerns within their school district.

“We are the link to home, link to the community, and we link families to services their kids need to improve their outcomes in the classroom because if they are stable at home they are stable in the classroom,” said Stanley.

Not only were they able to hire an additional counselor and social worker at the secondary school level, they also have a contract with East Alabama Mental Health Services to provide additional therapists to work with students and their parents.

“Some of the things kids are dealing with now we didn’t necessarily have to deal with when we were in school. There’s a lot of pressure to be accepted there are a lot of things going on in the home and unfortunately a lot of these things are trickling into the classroom where kids are running into barriers with their academic success,” said Terri Huffman, Secondary School Social Worker for Auburn City Schools.

They can also do home visits and provide counseling and support not only to the students but to the parents as well.

“You have to be that constant that they know they can count on. This position provides that. Students know they have that constant face from middle school, junior high and all the way up, parents do as well,” said Secondary School Counselor Sheryl Smith.

In 2015, they’ve helped more than 300 students and through a survey, they’ve noticed more and more students are noticing their services.

“They know what we do now, so if they are having problems they say, I can talk to Ms. Terry or I am having issues at home, I can talk to Ms. Terry,” said Huffman.

Through this grant, they are confident their drop out rate will decrease and students will have the confidence and support to finish and be successful after they graduate. Also, they are hoping other schools see the value of having social workers in schools and how it’s made a drastic difference in their student’s lives.

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