Social Work News

Ferguson-Florissant School District

April 2021 Newsletter

Celebrate Diversity Month

There is a lot to celebrate in the month of April -- Autism Awareness Month, Stress Awareness Month, and Second Chance Month -- but your District Social Work Team will also be celebrating Diversity Month.

It is important that we find value in each other’s experiences, differences, and unique characteristics as it enables us to respond with empathy and compassion. Celebrating diversity not only boosts cultural awareness, but, more importantly, it creates spaces of belonging and inclusion where people feel valued. Celebrating similarities and differences can help people get a better understanding of each other. This is more important now than ever in this virtual world.

Diversity is more than just bringing a different perspective to the table. Adding someone different to the table makes one believe there will be differing views. This belief then changes one's behavior by being better prepared and taking different views into consideration that may have easily been dismissed if in a group with people who are all similar.

Diversity actually makes us more creative and hard working. It encourages the search for differing perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. The more options we have to solve a problem, the more likely we will be able to solve it. Studies have shown that when we hear dissent from someone that is different from us it provokes more thought than when it comes from someone who looks like us. (

Ways we can celebrate diversity:

  1. Play music from around the world

  2. Support minority owned businesses

  3. Share your culture and heritage with a social media post

  4. Host a multicultural movie night

  5. Attend a cultural art exhibit

  6. Learn a cultural dance

  7. Have an international pen pal

  8. Learn a new language

  9. have a potluck with different ethnic foods

  10. Create a "learn at lunch" day/series where people can share aspects of their culture not usually known

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

Hope Helps

In addition to celebrating diversity, April is also National Hope Month. Hope is needed more than ever as we navigate this current pandemic. Like diversity, having hope has been proven scientifically to have positive effects. Hope is not as much a feeling, but, rather, a motivational system. Hope leads to learning goals (Psychology Today) which are conducive to growth. Those lacking hope tend to choose mastery goals which lead them to choose easy tasks that don't offer room for growth or improved learning.

People often use hope and optimism interchangeably but they are not the same. A study by psychologists at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine in Chicago was conducted to see if optimism and hope really were interchangeable or different. Their research confirmed that while optimism and hope have overlapping features, each is also unique.

What Hope is:

  • Something good you want to happen in the future
  • Beliefs one has about themselves and the actions they intend to take to reach their goals
  • Event specific and depends on external situations
  • More than just wishing

What Optimism is:

  • Event independent and does not depend on external situations
  • A natural mental outlook like a trait.
  • More about positive expectations about an event with no need to work for it

Hope is not a luxury for mental and physical health; it is a necessity. This is because hope has many health benefits:

  1. Hope boosts immune function and decreases pain.

  2. Hope helps to lower levels of anxiety and depression by providing resilience against such things.

  3. Hope helps you choose healthier behaviors such as exercising and healthy diets.

When we find ourselves struggling, we often try to obtain resources to help. Hope is a resource often overlooked or undervalued. But it is a resource we can always have and always take with us wherever we go. So when you find yourself stuck, hope helps!

"Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future." -- Robert Schuller

Kate Obermeier

Kate works with all of the district's Pre-K - 2nd grade buildings.

Debbie Bodden

Debbie works with all of the district's 3rd - 5th grade buildings and 6th grade centers.

Lynda Partee

Lynda works with all of the district's middle and high schools.

Timothy Merritt

Tim works with students attending at the Restoration Center.

Bree Moore

Bree works with students attending at the Restoration Center.

Whitney Johnson

Whitney works with families that are enrolled or enrolling in the district under the McKinney-Vento Act.

Yolanda Rodgers-Garvin

Yolanda works with families that are enrolled or enrolling in the district under the McKinney-Vento Act and students who are currently in foster care.