Mar. 7, 2023 -- While Heights High social worker Allison Craig may have been surprised to learn she was selected as Ohio’s School Social Worker of the Year, her colleagues were definitely not. “She is an outstanding resource, dependable, and the calm in the storm,” was just one of many accolades used to describe her in her nomination.
Toia Robinson, Coordinator for Student Services and Mrs. Craig’s former supervisor said, “Her dedication is insurmountable. … She is the epitome of professionalism and grace of what a School Social Worker represents.” And Heights High Principal Dr. Alissa McKinnie said, “While it is clear Mrs. Craig is well-versed in counseling skills and programmatic structures, her true value lies in how she uses those strengths to enhance our school-community as a whole.”
Mrs. Craig was honored by the Ohio Schools Social Worker Association in a ceremony on Friday, February 24, during which she thanked her family, the CH-UH district where she’s worked for 22 years, and her colleagues. “I am blessed to work with an amazing team. There are so many other school social workers who could have been recognized, including eight right here in the CHUH district.”
According to her nomination, Mrs. Craig has been a leader in the School Social Work field through professional development training such as Mental Health First Aid, Trauma Informed Care During a Pandemic, and the Social Emotional Tool Kit. She has served on a district taskforce for Social Emotional Learning and even takes on additional tasks like serving as a Class Council Advisor. She is driven by the knowledge that students “cannot open their minds to full learning capacity if they’re stuck in a place of sadness, stress and turmoil.”
But it’s not just the mental health of students that she focuses on. Recognizing the incredible strain on teachers and school staff, especially since the pandemic, Mrs. Craig launched Tranquil Tea Thursdays, a monthly opportunity for staff to focus on their own self-care and reset in a calm and relaxing environment.
Mrs. Craig believes the role of school social workers is critical to the ultimate success of students and the entire school community. As she says, “It is more important than ever for school districts to employ school social workers to address and help decrease or remove the social and emotional barriers that prevent our students from succeeding academically. … We do this work because we believe in it and we believe in our students.”
Her recent recognition suggests that her colleagues and students believe in her too.