School Based Social Work
During my freshman year at College, I was mad aware of a job opening at a local public school on Staten Island. Some of the college’s students spent their first semester volunteering there for their freshman learning community. By the second semester, all the volunteers left because the atmosphere of the school was challenging. With all of the free help gone, the school put out a flyer for paid after school help positions. I jumped at the opportunity for a paid job in which I only had to work a few hours each day. I had spent time in high volunteering at my neighborhood public school, so I had experience working with children in a school setting. I am also from a low income, ethnically diverse neighborhood, so what my peers deemed as a “challenging neighborhood” made me feel right at home. By the spring of 2007, I had been working as an after school tutor and recreations counselor for over a year. My place of employment was Public School Number. The organization I worked for is a non-profit company called, which runs a out of the school. At the same time I was also debating entering the education dual major program, which required me to do student teaching. Within the school I had many roles which made me a visible member of the community. I fell in love with the children I saw everyday. I slowly but surely worked my way up to greater levels of responsibility. I eventually received my own group of children to regularly supervise. On a Thursday afternoon, one of my children began tugging on my uniform shirt. I immediately turned my attention to the child. She was a first grade student I will call “Tammy”. Tammy began to cry. Crying is not unusual in an after school program that deals with children, so I was not alarmed but I did try to calm the child. Tammy was holding her stomach so I asked if she had a tummy ache. She nodded yes. I tried to encourage her to use her voice. I wanted Tammy respond to me by speaking so I ignored the head nod and asked the question again, “Tammy, does your stomach hurt? Is there anything I can do for you to help?” Tammy started to calm down and replied, “Yes, my tummy hurts and I want my mommy.” This is not an unusual request. Sometimes after a long day at school, children do not want to stay for the entire after school program. Many times they claim to be ill so that a counselor will call their parents to come pick them up early. I asked her how long had her stomach been hurting and she told me since yesterday. I followed up by asking if she had told her teacher that her stomach was bothering her during the day. Tammy confirmed that she did tell her teacher and that she was allow to put her head down for awhile and that she took a short nap. I figured that her stomach ache must not have been a huge issue, when she told me that her teacher did not send her to the nurse because she felt better after she awoke. Lots of children fake illness however; Tammy was not one of those children. I took her hand and we began to walk down the hallway to the office so that I could call her mother. I made conversation in the hopes of trying to understand what was bothering her. I asked Tammy if she ate something that she would not normally eat and she said no. Then I asked if she had any idea why her stomach was hurting so that I would know what to tell her mother when I called her. The child began to cry. This cry was slightly different from the earlier one. It seemed like she I embarrassed. I became confused and was immediately concerned. No first grade girl would be embarrassed to cry about a stomach ache. I reassured her that she could tell me anything and that everything would be okay. “Yesterday I spent the night at my friend’s house. We had fun until my friend’s mommy left,” Tammy said with tears still pouring from her eyes. I asked if the two little girls had been left in the house alone. “No,” she replied, “we stayed in the house with her uncle and he...
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