- Clover School District
School Social Workers Help Students Rise
School Social Work Week is being observed March 5-11, so it’s the perfect time to introduce you to the five social workers making a difference for Clover School District (CSD) families.
Courtney Jones is the lead social worker. He serves Clover Middle School, Clover High School and Blue Eagle Academy.
Natalie Rimmer serves Clover High School, the Ninth Grade Campus and Oakridge Elementary.
Brooke Barr serves Kinard Elementary, Bethel Elementary and Crowders Creek Elementary.
Brantlee Spurrier serves Griggs Road Elementary, Oakridge Middle School and Clover High School.
Sarah Love serves Larne Elementary and Bethany Elementary.
The theme for this year’s School Social Work Week is “We Rise.” That’s an apt description of the role these social workers play in the lives of CSD students.
Jones describes the work of a school social worker as “helping students with non-academic barriers that improve learning.” Those include attendance, truancy and family emergencies. “Family emergencies” may include everything from a need for food or clothing to having a disconnected utility service restored. The social workers all agreed that the best day is when an elementary student receives a much-needed pair of new shoes. “It’s the one time we let them run in the hallways,” laughed Spurrier.
Rimmer said she is moved by the look of relief on a parent’s face when she has been able to give them one less thing to worry about. Last week, she helped a family that needed help getting their student’s cap and gown. “I know how hard it is to raise teenagers. You want them making good choices and doing the right things,” she said.
School social work may also look different by grade levels. Love notes that elementary social workers spend time doing car duty, bus duty and recess duty. While that may appear to provide important breaks for teachers, she says it’s also a critical time for building relationships with students. At the secondary level, Jones sponsors the Gentlemen’s Club at Clover Middle and Rimmer sponsors the Student Ambassadors at Clover High. Both organizations support building relationships between students, the school and the community.
The social workers also discussed the challenges of their positions. Spurrier said it was frustrating when a family didn’t qualify for a support program that they need. Jones observed that abuse and neglect cases are difficult. Spurrier commented that she takes her work home and worries about the kids. Love said it is hard not to have control over what happens to a student after school.
All five of the social workers praised the community support they receive in doing their jobs. Rimmer noted that clubs, churches and individuals always step forward to fill a need that appears. The social workers said they have spent years cultivating these relationships to ensure that students have what they need.
The social workers agreed that they were stretched thin sometimes and that growth in the district may mean additional positions so that staff members can give more time and attention to families.