Breadcrumb Navigation

social work week 2024
Posted in on March 7, 2024

School social workers provide all kinds of resources

Sam Houston High School’s social work office doesn’t just house two school social workers. The office is also home to a resource closet with emergency clothing, hygiene products, food and school supplies for any students and their families who need them.

That closet is a good representation of Arlington ISD’s school social workers. They have a variety of titles, but in a nutshell, they are highly educated, skilled mental health professionals who become whatever the students need them to be. Like the resource closet, they provide any resources students may need, from social and emotional to academic and physical.

Though their role is critical, they often fly under the radar. But this week is School Social Work Week, so it’s the perfect time to celebrate the impact they make for students and families all year long.

Daniel Reese, one of the two Sam Houston social workers who share their office with the resource closet, explained that their role is a vital part of Arlington ISD’s Culture of Care.

“As licensed professionals, we address both the physical and emotional needs of students in our targeted populations as well as the general school population,” Reese said.

Some of those targeted populations include students dealing with homelessness, foster care or any number of challenges.

“We help students directly who may struggle with their living situation, foster care status, pregnancy/parenting, drugs/alcohol or any other crisis factor like mental health, behavior, attendance and academics,” said Kee-Kee Jackson, Arlington ISD student outreach services facilitator.

“Education levels the playing field in terms of equity for disadvantaged populations, and school social workers help to remove barriers to accessing the education system,” Jackson said.

Elizabeth Garza-Higgens, an Arlington ISD student outreach services specialist, explained that school social workers take a comprehensive approach to help students achieve academic success and improve their overall well-being.

They work to “establish linkages between home, school and community by utilizing” a variety of tools, including “individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, attendance improvement, advocacy and case management, collaboration with school staff, collaboration with families and community resource connections,” she said.

The approach is personalized to the individual student’s situation.

“Establishing relationships with students allows us to understand their individual needs and concerns,” Garza-Higgens said. “This personal connection can be a powerful motivator for students, fostering a sense of trust and support that is beneficial for their educational journey.”

Connie Pacheco, an Arlington ISD student outreach services facilitator, believes it starts with compassion.

“A little bit of compassion, empathy and grace go a long way to oneself and those around us,” she said.

Pacheco couples that compassion with her expertise, experience, resource connections and co-workers to serve as a champion for students.

“Being a school social worker has its fair share of challenging moments, but nothing is more incredibly rewarding than witnessing the growth of seeds planted in students showing evidence of someone being their champion when all the odds were against them,” she said.

Reese is like-minded and a champion for Sam Houston’s students, too.

“Being a consistent part of their lives, whether it’s needing a new pair of socks or working through a significant life change, having them know that I have their back means everything,” he said.


If you or a family member need assistance with resources, basic needs or case management, please visit our student outreach services page here for additional information.