Vicki Chesney, coordinator of the Conyers First Baptist First Responders program, was named a winner of the Laura H. Barnes Honorary Social Worker award, named after a former school social worker who died suddenly in 2012, for a person in the community who exemplifies the qualities of a school social worker.
The CFB First Responders Program began in January 2014 to provide emergency assistance to families in need within 24-48 hours, with assistace such as housing, hotels, clothing and food.
Susan Paul Smith, the RCPS Student Support Coordinator and former STARS Program coordinator, was also chosen by RCPS social workers for the Laura H. Barnes award, for her contributions behind the scenes.
The award was also given in celebration of March as school social worker appreciation month and school social work week in the first week of March. This year's theme is "Social Work, Leading the Way for Change."
RCPS Director of Community and Student Support April Fallon said, "Social workers, more than any other profession, recognize more must be done to address persistent social problems such as poverty, lack of education and healthcare, homelessness and discrimination. RCPS social workers are certainly agents of change... What I value most about our school social workers is that they are fearless advocates who fight to make sure our children are safe."
"They're not afraid to call a state child advocacy group when a student has been lost in the shuffle and need protection the most. They are the district's on-call emergency responders related to child abuse, domestic violence, suicide and other crises."
This is the eighth year of the tradition of choosing one person in the community and one person in the school system to name as an honorary social worker and the third year the honor was named after Barnes, who passed away from heart complications in February 2012.