What Does a Social Worker Do?

Email from a former Match Corps:

Hi Goldstein,

I've been meaning to send you a quick update on life...found my way into Social Work and completed a two year Master's of Science program at the University of Texas. It was a pretty great program. I had the opportunity to take an internship placement at a traditional public elementary school in Austin during my first year. I also took a full time internship during my second year working with a jail release program inside the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which became full-time when I graduated.

As fate would have it, the nonprofit that I was working for went under. I got a job working for KIPP Austin as a bilingual counselor. (Erin Tsukamoto and Alex Olden of Match Corps 4 fame are both teachers here). It has been an awesome year. I've loved getting back into the charter movement and am excited to return to KIPP next year in the same role.

On a semi-related note, you'd be happy to know that I have been playing considerably more basketball since moving to the land of sunshine and jumpshots. There's usually a good pickup game not too far from my house on any given day of the week. I had a minor setback in rolling my ankle a few weeks back (perhaps a sign that I'm getting old), but I'm planning to come off the DL this weekend.

Anyway, I hope that life is also going well for you and your family in Boston. Send me an update when you have a spare minute.


Dane, great to hear from you. You 3 are a little posse down there at KIPP Austin. Maybe I can get down there one day and we can challenge those little kippsters to some ball. Glad to hear your unusual array of Ginobli-like moves are flourishing in the Lone Star State.

Some of my readers wonder about social work. What do you do exactly?

Dane writes:

Haha! Good question - I do a variety of student, family, and teacher support. I really like the job in that it's incredibly flexible and there aren't really two days that look much alike.

I do a fair amount of crisis stuff and the things that I think people usually associate with social workers (Child Protective Service reports, grief/loss counseling, custody support). Those type of things, however, are in the minority.

In a typical day I might do a home visit to a parent that has self-recommended or been referred by a teacher. I'm fluent in Spanish which has been an enormous help. I usually have 2-3 parents come to my office on a day that I don't do a home visit.

I also case-staff students with teachers by grade level and do teacher consultations on an individual student basis. We do a lot of work around alternative behavior plans, in class strategies, and goal setting. This pairs nicely with the work I do with students. I usually run a variety of groups on campus (anger management, parent divorce, healthy relationships, etc) and have 8-10 students who I meet with individually. These are typically the students who struggle with anything from homework completion (goals might be organization, work with home environment, motivation) to behavioral disruptions (goals might be earning paycheck dollars students earn during class, working toward field trips, making friends). I came in thinking that I would be working mostly with those perceived as 'bad kids', but the family aspect allows me to work with a variety of students who struggle with a number of academic barriers.

You should definitely try to get down here in the coming year -- I think that you'd enjoy getting to see our school and the way it's set up. Plus I'll put your name on the street as a Bruce Bowen type (or some other not-so-topical Spurs reference that a Texan would understand.... they're all big Durant fans down here because he went to UT and works out in Austin over the summer).

Orin wants me to go all-in on the Bruce Bowen reference and get myself a bow tie.