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Guest Voices: Creating Equitable Opportunities as a School Social Worker

November 14th, 2018

By Holly Flanagan, School Social Worker

A photo of Holly Flanagan

Holly Flanagan is a licensed clinical social worker in the Office of Student Support Services and is based at Reservoir High School. Her work with students and their families is aligned with the Strategic Call to Action and its emphasis on nurturing skill development, collaborative dialogue and a restorative culture.

I have been a practicing clinical social worker for 28 years. I have worked at Reservoir High School, the Homewood Center, and evening high school for 17 of those years and this is my 11th year at Reservoir. I am proud to be a Reservoir Gator and part of a truly dedicated, warm and respectful staff that is committed to building positive relationships with students and each other. I attended Howard County schools K–12 (Stevens Forest Elementary School, and Oakland Mills middle and high schools) as have my three children. Now that HCPSS has created a social work department, I am excited to help HCPSS develop and implement more social work services for our students.

At Reservoir High School, I support students who face challenges that interfere with their success in school. I meet with them individually and in groups. I address trauma (focusing on post traumatic growth) and environmental stressors, help with problem solving, conduct mediations, offer crisis intervention, and work to reduce out-of-school suspensions. It is my proudest day of the year when “my” students receive their diploma! The resilience of adolescents continually amazes me. I also help parents and guardians connect with resources in the community to meet their family’s needs. Supporting the entire family, and community, is an important part of my job supporting students.

In my years of practice, I have developed these foundational beliefs to explain WHY I practice in schools:

I have based my career on these beliefs.

In addition to working at Reservoir, I am an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Maryland School of Social Work where I teach a graduate class in clinical social work/therapy. I love teaching new social workers about our field and the incredible rewards that come with it.

I am also a member of the School Social Work Committee for the Maryland chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and serve on HCPSS’ Mental Health Community Advisory Committee. I previously worked in schools in Baltimore County and Baltimore City, as well as at Howard County’s sexual assault center. I also volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and am a trail running coach.

Social work is a calling for me – it is an honor to work with students and their families as they allow me into their lives.