FCPS Office of Social Work Services March 2022 Newsletter

March is National Social Work Month

March is National Social Work Month and March 6-12, 2022, is National School Social Work Week, an opportunity for schools, communities, and partners to acknowledge and recognize the impactful work of our social workers in supporting students, families, and their communities.

Under the leadership of the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA), the only national organization exclusively dedicated to the profession of school social work, this celebration will emphasize School Social Work contributions of focusing on the “whole-child”, linking families to community resources, a valuable voice as part of the school’s multi-disciplinary team, and advocating for the profession of School Social Work.

The theme for National School Social Work Week 2022 is “Time to Shine.” SSWAA believes that School Social Workers shine brightly for their students, families, and school communities. Shining hope. Shining understanding. Shining respect.

"School Social Workers are humble professionals,” said Rebecca Oliver, LMSW, SSWAA Executive Director, “who often are the voice for students and families but do not always voice the value they add to the school community. School Social Workers shine a light on the need for mental health services, offering hope for students and families who face various challenges, and lighting the way for marginalized youth.”   

FCPS Social Work Services Video to Celebrate School Social Work Week

Follow FCPS Social Work Services on Twitter @SWS_FCPS

Sibshops: Supporting Siblings of Students with Special Needs

Photo of Sibshops

Sibshops are a wonderful opportunity to provide connection and support for siblings of students with special needs.  FCPS Office of Social Work Services has a team of social workers trained to facilitate Sibshops and sessions are now being offered both virtually and in person at Providence Community Center.  The next Sibshops offerings will be held on March 4th for grades 2-6.  Information on upcoming Sibshops and the registration process can be found through the FCPS Parent Resource Center and the following link:  March 4th Sibshops Registration

Parent Project

Picture of Parent Project Facilitators

The Office of Social Work Services recently completed their first Parent Project offering.  This program shares specific prevention and intervention strategies to help parents improve their ability to change challenging behaviors.  A special thanks to our facilitators for this class:  Mary Valad, Emily Jackson, and Dianne Stansbery. 

Building a Trauma-Informed Classroom

The “Building a Trauma-Informed Classroom” Academy class continues to educate and support FCPS staff, administrators and clinicians about ways to help all students by integrating practices that promote a sense of safety, self-regulation and the restoration of relationships.  The class also integrates wellness & self-care practices for staff as they continue to serve students and families during this challenging time.  One teacher shared the following after taking the class, “I was struggling with whether I could continue to handle the challenges…you changed my outlook about life / teaching in a positive way.”  She connected the class experience directly to the positive impact on her students:  “My relationship with my students has been much better and my mental health is even stronger.”  Stay tuned for upcoming summer and fall offerings of this Academy course!      

Centering Equity

Jeanette Alvarez, Social Worker at Falls Church HS

Jeanette Alvarez is a school social worker at Falls Church High School providing services to engage students and families and remove barriers to school success.  She also supports partnerships, including a program there facilitated by Liberty's Promise which aims to advance equity and inclusion for immigrant and refugee students. Programs like this offer students the opportunity to develop self-worth, set personal goals, improve attendance, and ensure diploma completion. Successful immigrant guest speakers are invited to share their stories with students to instill motivation and encouragement. The groups target educational and professional opportunities while also promoting active community involvement and civic education. In the spring, students in the program will hear from Jeanette to learn about resources available to them.

Social Worker Spotlight

Picture of Claudia McDowell

Social Worker:  Claudia McDowell

School:  Lynbrook

Recognition:  2022 SSWAA National School Social Worker of the Year Award

Years with FCPS:  10 years

MSW Degree:  University of Georgia

Fun Fact:  I love traveling, have visited 46 states and hope to have visited 50 by age 50!

Rewarding Moment:  Supporting a student whose mother had died unexpectedly.  I was able to visit with the mother a month prior to her passing and that connection was a source of comfort for the child.

Ways that Social Workers Shine:  Equity advocates, trauma-informed mental health clinicians, resource brokers to remove barriers and set up opportunities.


Picture of Porscha Baker

Social Worker:  Porscha Baker

Schools:  Cameron ES and Stratford Landing ES

Recognition:  2020-21 FCPS Office of Social Work Services Impact Award

Years with FCPS:  10 years

MSW Degree:  Howard University

Fun Fact:  I rode horses competitively from ages 7-12.

Rewarding Moment:  Helping a family secure permanent housing and then seeing how much the support had meant to the parent and kids.

Ways that Social Workers Shine:  I feel like we are the backbone in every school building.  Whatever the situation, we are there on the front line doing what needs to be done for kids and families!!!


Supporting Early Learners: Growing the Caregiver’s Toolbox: A Webinar Series for PreK-2 Families

We are excited to have two of our staff, Laura Thieman and Amy Sheldon, supporting this upcoming learning opportunity offered through the Parent Resource Center.  

  • 3/11/22: Supporting Self-Regulation Development in Early Learners
  • 4/22/22: Supporting Healthy Habits & Routines in Early Learners
  • 5/20/22: Growing through Tough Moments in Early Learners

There are so many ways children learn and develop throughout early childhood. Relationships, habits, and even challenges can become rich opportunities to teach and foster lifelong learning and skills for our children. Learn more about how self-regulation, executive functioning, and routines can help your children learn and develop.

  • Laura Thieman, LCSW, MPH, RPT- FCPS Social Worker Supervisor, Region 3
  • Amy Sheldon, MEd, MSW, LCSW - FCPS Preschool Mental Health Clinician, Early Childhood Assessment Team
  • Lori Kraden, FCPS Educational Specialist, Behavior Intervention Services

Fridays 10-11:30 a.m.

Register for Supporting Early Learners: Growing the Caregiver’s Toolbox: A Webinar for PreK-2 Families