By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
AAPS School Social Work Consultant Angela Warr was recently named the Michigan Association of School Social Workers’ School Social Worker of the Year for Region A. She was nominated for the award by her colleagues and previous administrators due to her strong work ethic, effective collaboration skills and dedication to the profession.
The lifelong Michigan resident grew up in Southgate. She attended Southgate Public Schools until the family moved to neighboring Riverview when she was 14, and she enrolled in Aquinas High School, a parochial school in Southgate. While there, she was elected president of the National Honor Society and was a staff writer on the school newspaper.
Warr attended the University of Michigan and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Following a two-year hiatus as a vocational evaluator for Case Management Plus and a family liaison for Lincoln Park Head Start, Warr enrolled in the Masters of Social Work program at Wayne State University.
After graduating from Wayne State with her MSW, she worked as an outpatient clinician for Family Services of Detroit and Wayne County and then became a case manager for a behavioral health care company. While working as a case manager, she completed the required coursework to receive approval as a school social worker for the state of Michigan through the Michigan Department of Education. She worked for Woodhaven-Brownstown School District from 2001-2004, and has worked for AAPS since August of 2004.
She and her husband Jim and their Australian labradoodle Lucy recently moved to Novi from Royal Oak, where they had lived for more than 10 years. She is enjoying the shorter commute and looking forward to exploring all of the parks and walking paths in the area.
What’s a typical workday like for you? I typically like to get to work early, around 7:15 to 7:30 a.m. so I can catch up on email and paperwork, etc. My home base is in the basement of Balas/Student Intervention and Support Services (SISS), although depending on my schedule for the day I can spend much of the day moving between multiple buildings. I have been helping out a lot at Bryant Elementary School as well, so if I’m not at Balas or meeting with other district school social workers (SSW), I’m at Bryant.
How does your new job compared to being assigned to a specific building, as you had been for 19 years? As the school social work consultant for the District Support Team, I support school social workers district-wide. I am a member of a team that includes our district BCBAs (board-certified behavior analysts), the Autism Coordinator, Peer to Peer Consultant, and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District teacher consultants who support our district.
As part of my role, I provide support to district school social workers, making sure they have access to the materials/resources/information they need to do their jobs. I have also worked on scheduling professional development that’s relevant to the SSWs needs, providing support with Functional Behavioral Analysis/Behavior Intervention Plans and data collection processes. With the support of SISS AD Julieanne Muir, I was able to submit applications for Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative (CEC) approval so that when our SSWs attend planned professional development they receive credit hours toward their license renewal.
I do miss providing direct service to students but I must say I love helping other SSWs feel successful and supported when faced with challenging situations/expectations. I feel like I am able to make a difference on a greater scale and reach more students this way.
How many social workers work in AAPS?
Right now, there are 32 SISS school social workers. Over the last several years the needs of our students have increased and our buildings are correspondingly increasing SSW support.
Who inspired you to become a social worker? My mom has been a Rehabilitation Counselor for over 35 years. She has demonstrated by example time and again how to make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities, how to advocate for what’s right and to never give up in the face of seemingly insurmountable roadblocks.
What’s the best compliment anyone could give you? The best compliment I could receive is that I had a positive impact on a child’s life.
In your 15 years in AAPS, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned? I think the most important thing I have learned is to listen first. Often, if you really listen to what is being said, you can hear, understand, and respect a position, feeling, opinion, or underlying emotion and respond with kindness, compassion, and care.
How do you get kids to open up to you? I may make a joke, usually about myself or I notice something about them and offer a compliment to start a conversation, or sometimes it’s as simple as reassuring them that they can talk to me.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? In previous years, seeing a student make progress with a skill we practiced and feeling proud of their accomplishment was always extra special. This year, receiving approval for CE credits and providing meaningful and relevant professional development was awesome.
How do you recharge? Taking a walk with my husband and Lucy, watching the Great British Baking Show on Netflix, working in the yard, talking to my family and friends
Apps you can’t live without: Facebook, Twitter, Fitbit, Waze.
How do you spend your summers? Working in the yard, reading, playing with the dog, traveling with my family, entertaining friends, sleeping in/staying up late.
What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life? I was recently promoted to the role of Lead SSW. I welcome the opportunity to collaborate/coordinate with SISS administrators and to advocate on behalf of district SSWs, including district-wide access to social-emotional learning curriculum, universal supports, and tiered interventions.
I’m excited to spend the summer in our new home, exploring Novi and the area parks, working in the yard, and traveling with my husband.