Lisa Soron is a school social worker in the Elgin School District U-46. She has a B.A. degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and an M.A. degree in clinical social work from the University of Chicago. She has over 25 years experience working with children, adolescents and their families. Additionally, she is a 500 hour certified yoga instructor with 12 years of teaching experience.

(Photo Courtesy of Lisa Soron)

(Photo Courtesy of Lisa Soron)

Over the last eight-and-a-half years with the Elgin school district, she has worked in eight different schools. Currently, she works at an elementary school which has four classrooms dedicated to instructing students on the autism spectrum.

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What are the responsibilities of your current role?

“As a school social worker, I have a wide range of responsibilities. My primary role is to provide services to students to enhance their social and emotional well-being in order to help them improve their academic functioning.  I may be called on by teachers to help manage over aggressive behavior, suicidal threats, withdrawn or anxious behavior; the effects of sexual, physical or substance abuse on learning. In general, I conduct social emotional skill building groups, write social histories, assess behavior formally and informally, provide individual counseling, crisis intervention, collaboration with multidisciplinary team members, staff, families and outside agencies to support a student’s functioning. I also mentor new social workers and provide training on crisis prevention intervention.”

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

“My favorite part of my daily duties is really a two-fold answer. First, I enjoy working with students in groups, and witnessing when they make the connection between their thoughts, feelings and actions. Sometimes it can take all year for this to happen but when it does, I know the student is on his or her way to real self empowerment. Second, I enjoy the creative aspect of my job. This year, I implemented a pilot program that involved providing yoga and relaxation techniques to a select group of students on the autism spectrum. At the end of the year, the students wanted to teach their classmates what they had learned!”

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Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

“My education prepared me to appreciate the theories behind human behavior and exposed me to cutting edge treatment interventions and research. Honestly, nothing compares with hands on experience. You can never take away the skill and knowledge gleaned from higher education. Never the less it’s the difference between describing what it’s like to sail in high winds and actually doing it.”

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

“My advice for people who want to pursue a similar career is go for it. The world needs people who believe in humanity, compassion, dedication and helping a person achieve their potential. We all benefit when this happens.  Along the journey follow your heart. Find like-minded people to support you. Never stop learning. Balance the hard and often emotionally draining work of servicing others with kindness to yourself.”

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Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner living in Chicago, Illinois. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of CraftKitsForKids.com and MichelleGuilbeau.com Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chicago, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.