Erks named Nebraska school social worker of the year
Carrie Erks from Lincoln Public Schools has been named the 2019 School Social Worker of the Year for Nebraska.
Erks was presented the award during a surprise ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the LPS Bryan Community Focus Program building, just south of 48th and O streets. Erks thought she was there only for a professional development meeting - until a group of family, friends and colleagues streamed into the room, many of them clutching bouquets of flowers for the honoree.
School Social Work Association of Nebraska President Emily Arkfeld presented the award.
“There was no one else we could even consider,” said Arkfeld, a school social worker with Bellevue Public Schools.
“I’m just doing what we all do every day, but thank you,” Erks said.
LPS school social workers are licensed mental health practitioners who connect students and families to resources at school and in the community to help students overcome barriers to success.
Colleagues raved about Erks in their nomination letters, which were read aloud at Tuesday’s event. Many of them talked about her work with implementing the Second Step curriculum to teach social-emotional learning to LPS students in grades kindergarten through seventh grade. Second Step recognizes that success in the classroom - and in life - depends on more than academics. Second Step teaches four main areas:
- Skills for learning
- Emotion management
- Problem solving
Beyond Second Step, though, her colleagues wrote about Erks’ passion for being a school social worker.
Gabby Danner, school social worker at Bryan Community Focus Program: “It is often said that character is who we are when no one is watching. Carrie is always a social worker. She is a beacon of hope both professionally and personally. Carrie emits warmth and genuine empathy for those she encounters. She strives to use her social work skills to make the lives of those she interacts with better.”
Brenda Leggiadro, LPS counseling and school social work supervisor: “As a leader of the school social work team, Carrie provides a powerful voice for her colleagues and for the profession as she models collaboration with counselors, psychologists, and nurses to address student needs and help families thrive.”
Tiffany Kavanaugh, LPS school social worker: “She brings wisdom, positivity, professionalism, kindness, grace and organization to all of her interactions with staff, as well as students.”
Published: August 27, 2019, Updated: August 28, 2019