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Special School District of St. Louis County

The Broad Reach of Helping Hands:
Social Workers Offer Numerous
Services Throughout the District

Shannon Broomfield is a loving mother and accomplished certified nursing assistant at a skilled nursing facility. But her road to success did not come without bumps along the way. Broomfield found herself living on her own and trying to raise a young daughter all while still attending high school.

When a student is going through a crisis or difficult time, it is often a social worker that is called upon to help with the situation. It is in this way that social workers play an important role both within SSD and throughout the community. To list everything the field of social work encompasses would stretch beyond the confines of any article or website. But to boil it down to the most basic level, social workers help people.

“The opportunities to help people are endless,” said SSD social worker Krista Sherman. “Whether I am making a referral to a community resource, providing support to a grieving student, running a stress management group, or helping a family gain access to basic needs like food and clothing, each minute as a social worker is spent helping someone.”

Sherman worked with Broomfield, now 19, at SSD’s North Technical High School.

“She helped me be successful in life because it was a time that I was doing everything on my own,” said Broomfield. “I didn’t know what to do or have any answers to grown-up questions, so I’d go to her for solutions to do things better. She was always there for me.” 

SSD employs numerous social workers throughout the county who work with students and their families to help them manage difficult situations.

“My son was struggling quite a bit in that first year at a new school,” said Ellen Ganey, whose son has received services from SSD, including services from social worker Eric Lindhorst.

“He (Eric) helped me outside of the school setting, finding resources for my son and helping me with documentation,” Ganey said. “He was involved on a daily basis—he became a confidant and also an advocate for me as a parent. I felt like he knew our family very well.”

Working as part of a team, social workers often serve as a liaison between parents, school psychologists, teachers, mental health professionals and other service providers. Because they know the student so well, and have experience working with all of the other groups, they know in which areas the student needs the most assistance, and they can speak up and advocate for the student and family in that way.

“I think our school social workers are very important in anybody’s life,” Broomfield said. “We go through a lot of stuff and don’t know who to talk to, but they always lead you in the right direction.”

Perhaps the area in which social workers are most recognized is helping in situations that are the most difficult—often crisis situations. Situations related to death, trauma, abuse, poverty, and many others, are some things many people would purposely avoid. But social workers head straight into these difficult circumstances, when many others may have headed out.

SSD has a crisis team that is assembled throughout the county in the event of such things. When a traumatic event takes place, the team steps into action and is present for those needing to process the situation or to find other resources to help.

During the winter months, social workers organize SSD’s Project Hope program and an annual coat drive. Both programs combine donations from staff throughout the District to help those most in need during the holidays and winter months. 

The duties performed by social workers are anything but glamorous. But the work they do in the District and community makes positive differences in the lives of students and families.

“My life that I am proud of wouldn’t be so good without Ms. Sherman’s care and love for me,” Broomfield said. “She motivated me to do better and be better, and I did just that.”

Published March 2017

Shannon Broomfield and Krista ShermanShannon Broomfield (left) and Krista Sherman (right)

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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