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 Gail Kimsey, a school social worker for 37 years who’s worked for PCPS since 2005.
What do you like most about being a school social worker?
I stay very busy. Especially during the pandemic, there are so many needs that families and students have right now. I enjoy making contact with students as much as I can, and I enjoy being an encourager for (getting an education). I enjoy making home visits as well, where you can really see what is going on and what students need. The job is varied and never boring.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
Dealing with truancy is difficult due to the volume of cases and schools under my watch. It can be overwhelming, but I do my best to understand each student’s situation, the reason he or she isn’t coming to school, and what we can do to help.
What are you most proud of in your time at PCPS?
I got my master’s degree while working here. I hope families I’ve touched on an individual basis have been advanced toward their goals due to something I’ve done. I like one-on-one. That’s what matters to me: working closely, being an encourager, doing what I say I am going to do.
Can you tell us one success story from your time at PCPS?
One student comes to mind: a high school student with no family except her grandparent. I was able to counsel her on a regular basis, mentor her, and I was able to be involved in her achievements, went to her ceremonies, etc. One of her goals was to get to a particular high school for excelling students who are college-ready. She had no transportation to the orientation, so with permission, I took her to the information session and encouraged her to follow through with the process. She is at that school now, and I can’t wait to see her graduate.
Everyone at PCPS contributes something special. What do you think you bring to our organization?
I have experience, and I was also a teacher for one year, so that helps. I have a school counselor certification, so that helps me understand what school counselors do as well. I really believe in our teachers and the difficult task they have to do every day. It’s a lot!