A Special Thank You!
School social workers are recognized and appreciated for the work they do for the children in our community.
In honor of National School Social Work Week, which runs March 5-11, 2023, the Mental Health Association of Fauquier County baked cookies and paid a visit to both Rappahannock County Public Schools and Fauquier County Public Schools to say a special “thank you” to all the social workers.
Rappahannock County Public Schools (RCPS)
Our first stop took place on a cold rainy morning at the end of February in Sperryville where Erica Jennejahn., school social worker for Rappahannock County Public Schools, met up with Renee Norden, for a coffee and great conversation. Renee shared her freshly baked cookies with Erica and asked her about her role and what she wanted people to know about her work, and Erica graciously told us.
“(My job) is the most satisfying thing that has ever happened to me. It is work that makes my heart and soul sing,” Erica said. “I enjoy the youth and helping them navigate life – to build people up. I see my role as a link between home, school and the community.”
She shared that the biggest challenge she has faced lately is helping other adults understand how to approach the youth. And she shared that she wishes there were more social workers available in the school system. “I wish there was another ‘me,’ not just for the mental health counseling, but more of the macro-level work,” she explained. When asked what a difficult day was like, she recalled her first day at RCPS. Seven minutes into her first day, she had to complete her first suicide risk assessment.
Erica is also supporting a peer mentor program that was created by one of the school counselors. The program was intentionally created to pair older and younger students. Currently, the school has had 41 mentor applicants and she said it is a “blast to see the kids’ interest.” The goal is simple, to spread love, and she is hopeful that next year the peer mentor program will be implemented.
Fauquier County Public Schools (FCPS)
The very next day, on a sunny, very warm February morning, Renee and intern, Kristin Alvarez, traveled to visit with social workers from Fauquier County Public Schools. During this visit the Mental Health Association enjoyed the dialogue about what is happening in the schools and how much their work is appreciated. They, too, were asked about what they wanted people to know about their work.
Several social workers agreed on the message they wanted to convey: “Every kid deserves a champion…to be the best that they can be, and to push to help them, advocate for them.” The group also shared that they never turn anyone down when they need help at the schools. They provide support all around for staff, children and even one another.
FCPS and RCPS social workers all agree they need to focus on themselves by supporting one another, and also practicing self-care as they deal with some very difficult and mentally challenging situations on a daily basis. Self-care for them includes different things, such as turning to one another when support is needed, and also to walk, pray, and take time to exercise.
National School Social Work Week was designed to celebrate school social workers and show appreciation for the work they do in helping our students. We hope the social workers at Fauquier County Public Schools and Rappahannock County Public Schools, and all around the nation, feel our love and appreciation!
If you or a loved one needs more information mental health providers and resources in the area the Mental Health Association has created a Provider Listing as a resource for individuals living in the Fauquier and Rappahannock counties.