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Recognizing school social work week March 3-9

Recognizing school social work week March 3-9

School social work week takes place March 3-9, and the recognition week makes for a good time to reflect upon all the critical tasks Osseo Area Schools’ social workers play in district schools. 

The School Social Work Association of American (SSWAA) said the recognition week is designed to honor and recognize the tireless efforts of school social workers and their commitment to fostering positive school environments that directly impact students, school staff, parents and the community at large. 

Here are the stories of just two of the district’s social workers: what motivates them and what they want the community to know about their role in the school. 

Jennifer Anderson - Crest View Elementary

An interest in social justice led Jennifer Anderson to pursue a career in social work, and she has now spent 30 years dedicated to this career. She has worked for county governments, non profit organizations and most recently Osseo Area Schools for the past 10 years, first at Park Center Senior High and now at Crest View. 

After doing social work in many different places, Anderson said she appreciates being at the elementary school level to be on-hand right away in a student’s moment of need and due to the critical developmental stage elementary students are in as they learn to manage friendships and emotions and lay the groundwork for successful teenage years and beyond. 

Anderson sees both special education students and general education students throughout the course of her day, and she both helps students with ongoing support and during spontaneous times of need. She said that seeing students implement skills they’ve worked on together to help them learn, grow and be successful is her favorite part of her job. 

“Schools have this great opportunity to establish supportive relationships between kids and caring adults, encourage positive peer development, and promote student mental health, which is key in terms of their learning,” she said. “I love my job here, and we have a great team.”

Dr. Ugonwayi Ugo - Edinbrook Elementary, Willow Lane and Arbor View early childhood centers

Dr. Ugonwayi Ugo's dream to become a social worker sprung from her mother, who she called her inspiration, cheerleader, and safety net who inspired her to have high moral values, integrity, and love for community service. Dr. Ugo came to the United States from Nigeria in the 1990s. When a university professor suggested she pursue a degree in social work, she said she had an “aha” moment of recognizing that her mother served in many social worker-like roles in their village when she was growing up, though she lacked the opportunity to get the education she desired.

Now as a Doctor of Social Work, Dr. Ugo said just some of her daily tasks as a school social worker include:

  • Problem-solving consultations.
  • Providing resources to homeless individuals.
  • Helping families resolve crisis issues.
  • Complete assessments of that determine a child’s social, emotional, and behavioral functioning to better help that student. 
  • Working with students on coping skills, interpersonal relationships, emotional development, self-esteem and more.

“To be a social worker, one must possess integrity for oneself and show empathy, fairness, compassion, love and respect for all lives,” she said. “Doing so has helped me see myself as an extension of the population I serve, doing what I love with passion.” 

Dr. Ugo said the job of a school social worker does not end when the school day ends; rather, she said it can be a continuous process to serve students and their families at times. She credits her empathy, love of serving others and inclination to do her best work that helps her succeed in this critical role. 

national school social work week March 3-9, 2024