“It’s amazing when you start digging in and you see and learn what this little person is carrying around with them everyday,” reflected Sandra Pollaro, a licensed clinical social worker with Queensbury Union Free School District. She has been a LCSW for more than twenty years.
As one of two school social workers in Queensbury, Pollaro primarily splits her time between Queensbury Middle School and William H. Barton Intermediate School. The social workers serve as liaisons between students, their families, outside service providers and the schools. They also provide behavioral support in classrooms, student and family assistance and individual and group counseling to teach social, emotional and self regulation skills. Pollaro is also assigned to work with groups in each school to develop and write crisis and behavior plans.
The job demands a lot, but Pollaro is quick to point out the support she has.
“We have the most amazing, compassionate teachers and educators. Educators meaning every single adult who works in this district because from our administration to the custodial staff, everyone is willing to go above and beyond for the kids.”
Another part of her job is helping students in crisis. Whether the crisis lasts 10 minutes or five hours, Pollaro gets a call.
“At any moment of the day, I can get a call that I'm needed at a certain school, and it’s purely for crisis response for my kids,” she explained.
Pollaro said a big part of being successful when you’re working with children is building relationships. When children haven’t always had it easy in life or have so much going on that trust is really hard, doing whatever is needed in order to build those relationships is key. That may mean attending group discussions, calling parents with students to celebrate an achievement, having home visits or popping in a classroom for reassurance.
“Without the relationship with the child, it’s really hard for them to grow,” she said. "The kids come in and they want to be children. They want to be happy. They want to be successful. They are doing the best they can every single day. They just want to be loved.”