Guest Column: Thank social workers

Published 5:18 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

Guest Column by John Mahal

John Mahal


With the week of March 3-9 having been National Social Workers Week, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the awesome work of our school social worker Katie Nielsen, but also the other Albert Lea school social workers as well! What does a school social worker do on a day-to-day basis, you ask? Let me try to give you an idea.

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Katie was a big influence in helping bring the SecondStep social/emotional curriculum I previously wrote about that our school counselor uses with every student once a week. She also organizes our food for the backpacks program, muffin morning and green eggs and ham family events, and is able to connect families with community resources they may not know are available to them.

Katie Nielsen


A highlight in her day would be the daily lunch bunch groups who eat with her in her office. This is important time for these students as they are able to talk about many different topics that may include problem solving, relationships, trauma, bullying prevention and academic success. The students who utilize this program really enjoy their time with her, as Katie does an outstanding job of connecting with students and trying to support them with everything they do. All our school social workers advocate for our students and families extremely well and Katie is no exception!

Thank you to all of our school social workers across Albert Lea.  With the nature of your position, doing a lot of things behind the scenes for our students and families, you may not always get the recognition you all deserve! 

John Mahal is the principal of Hawthorne Elementary School.