03/11/07 — Schools' social workers honored

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Schools' social workers honored

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 11, 2007 9:38 AM

Board of Education member Dave Thomas says he knows some of the challenges social workers in the school system face -- for several years, he was responsible for the truancy program.

"I have been to homes before and it's mostly single mothers and grandmothers that are taking care of a boy. They have had tears in their eyes, saying, 'I just can't make him go to school,'" he said.

"Many times, the kid is sitting over there, saying, 'Well, I'm 16. You can't make me go.'"

There are probably plusses and minuses to the legal age required to be in school, Thomas said, but personal experience has brought him to his own conclusion on the subject.

"I would like to see them raise it up one year, at least to 17," he said.

Thomas was the guest speaker at the annual schools' social workers luncheon, held Friday at Goldsboro Country Club.

He said the rising divorce rate and the number of children home alone after school create potential problems of truancy or juvenile delinquency. Extra-curricular activities such as chorus, band and sports are good ways to divert children into more positive directions, he said.

"Don't expect life to be fair," Thomas cautioned. "Some of us will be tall, some of us short, some of fast, some of us slow."

But good things can also come out of unfair disadvantage, he added.

"I used to be a stutterer in elementary school and the boys especially would make fun of us," he said. "When I got in the seventh grade, I could go out for football and some of these guys that were teasing me, I could tackle and start kicking."

The school system currently has 18 social workers assigned to the 31 county schools. Six were added last year through a grant received by the school system.

And each social worker is needed, said Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools.

"I know you guys go out to the homes and you see what goes on," he said. "They say half of the world doesn't know how the other half live."

Children arrive at school each day with so many issues and concerns that would shock the public, Taylor said.

"When I think I have heard it all, I see another chapter I could write in a book," he said. "If you could just sit down sometime and tell your story in the community, they would not believe it."

The district's social workers and the schools they serve include the following: Donna Best, Greenwood Middle, and Eastern Wayne and Meadow Lane elementary schools; Kimberly Brogden, Fremont Stars and Charles B. Aycock High; Claudia Brown, Carver Heights Elementary; Etta Craigwell, lead social worker at North Drive Elementary; Kim Hatsell, Grantham; Brenda Jackson, Goldsboro and Southern Wayne high schools; Sharon Jeanes, Southern Wayne High and Mount Olive Middle; Dawn Knowles, Southern Academy; Nicole Lesesne, Carver Elementary; Denise Meacham, lead social worker at Spring Creek High; Pam Sheffield, Goldsboro Intermediate, Dillard Middle, School Street Elementary and Goldsboro High; Melanie Smith, Brogden and Norwayne middle schools; Jennifer Sullivan, Spring Creek Elementary; Linda Taylor, Northwest, Northwest and Tommy's Road elementary schools; Lynne Tyndall, Eastern Wayne middle and high schools; Brenda Ward, Brogden Primary; Leatrice Woodard, Belfast Academy; and Dena Whitley, Rosewood elementary, middle and high schools.