It’s National School Social Work Week! Every year, the School Social Work Association of America sets aside the first full week of March to recognize the contributions of school social workers.
On a daily basis, school social workers help to eliminate barriers to student success by providing counseling services, connecting families to community resources, or responding in times of crisis. This week, Polk County Public Schools is taking the time to highlight our own school social workers.
Today we meet Claudette Garcon, who started her career as a school social worker in 2018.
What do you like most about being a school social worker?
Working with my schools and parents to help improve attendance. Sometimes, families face challenges that impact the student’s attendance. Helping families triumph over those challenges is rewarding.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?
The biggest challenge I face is wanting to do more for every school I service, but with only so much time and being assigned to seven schools, I’m sometimes limited in the amount of support I can provide.
What are you most proud of in your time at PCPS?
I’m most proud of the relationships and rapport I have developed with the students and staff at my schools. I want to be a source of all-around support, not just for attendance.
Can you tell us one success story from your time at PCPS?
There was a fifth-grade student I met at one of my elementary schools, who is now in the seventh grade at one of my middle schools. This student was defiant and constantly getting suspended. I got to know the student on a personal level, which helped me understand the behavior. It was clear the student’s home environment was not the best, and there was barely any food in the home. I took the responsibility, with support of staff from the middle school, to provide food for him every day. Now, every day before dismissal, the student goes to the office to pick up his dinner and snack for the night. Every Friday, the student is given food to sustain him for the weekend. Since the student has been having dinner every night, he’s started to make positive behavioral changes in the classroom. This great effort has increased the student’s self-worth and reassured him that the staff at school care.
Everyone at PCPS contributes something special. What do you think you bring to our organization?
I think I bring a positive attitude to the organization by treating everyone with dignity, no matter their background.