Social Work

What is School Social Work?

The District 39 Social Work Department provides a broad range of services to teachers, parents, and students to support the District's mission to nurture the academic, social-emotional, and physical well-being of each student. School social work service is based on an understanding that factors such as psychosocial development, family, community, and culture all influence student achievement. Through consultation, collaboration, and counseling, social workers aim to make educational opportunities more accessible to all students and help students develop their individual potential.

The role of the school social worker in District 39 is to:

  • Intervene with students who are in crisis due to academic, social, behavioral, mental health, or family concerns
  • Provide brief, goal-oriented interventions to students when social or emotional needs interfere with learning
  • Foster communication between staff, students, parents, and the school in order to support student's social-emotional well-being
  • Consult with school administration on policy issues related to social and emotional development
  • Maintain liaison relationships with area social service organizations in order to help families access mental health or other supportive services in the community

School Social Work Services

District 39 currently employs one full-time social worker at each of the elementary schools, two full-time social workers at Highcrest Middle School, and two full-time social workers at Wilmette Junior High School. Additional expertise comes from a full-time social worker assigned to support students across the district with low-incidence disabilities, and a part-time social worker supporting the Early Childhood program.

If you are concerned about your child's social or emotional well-being, please contact your school social worker.

Central School
Jami Jacobs, LCSW
[email protected]
Harper School
Karin Bader
[email protected]
McKenzie School
Nadine Ibrahim, LCSW
[email protected]
Romona School
Amber Lopez
[email protected]

Amy Valaitis, LCSW
[email protected]
Highcrest Middle School
Brittany Berman, LCSW
[email protected]
Carly Cowin
[email protected]

Amanda Gerhls, LCSW

Wilmette Junior High School
Nicola Kiela, LCSW
[email protected]

Cathy Marlas, LCSW
[email protected]

Natalia Panico
[email protected]
Elise Higgins
[email protected]

Lechner Early Education Program (LEEP)
Jill Gershune, LCSW
[email protected]

Additional Resources:

For additional information on common mental health and wellness topics, please see the articles below:

Supporting Children's Mental Wellbeing
National Association of School Psychologists: Supporting Children's Mental Health

Understanding Mental Illness
Warning Signs of Common Mental Illness

American Psychiatric Association: Understanding Mental Illness

Understanding Mental Illness in Children

Understanding Anxiety
American Psychiatric Association: Understanding Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Depression
Erika's Lighthouse: Depression in Children and Adolescents

School Social Work Association of America