With the 2015-2016 school year well under way, Marist High School is seeing the benefits of adding a full-time social worker to its guidance department. While social workers sometimes work within the role of a guidance counselor, Marist believes it is the only area Catholic school to employ someone serving solely as a social worker.
Cathaleen Novak joined Marist in August, bringing more than eight years of experience to the department. The position was added to better serve students who deal with more complex issues such as chronic illness or hospitalization. Students who work with Novak are those who require long term, and at times, immediate services. Delegating these student cases to the social worker will also help the work flow of the guidance department, allowing counselors time with their assigned students.
“The benefit of having a professional to focus on the complex and truly ‘least favored’ students in our community speaks to Marist's mission,” explained department director Erik Christensen ‘97. “We recognize the need to serve all students. Guidance counselors and the social worker will work together to best serve our students' needs.”
The addition of a school social worker to the Marist faculty will provide another level of support to our students. A school social worker provides both direct and indirect services to students and also acts as a liaison to outside agencies. Novak will be providing individual student support as well as ongoing small groups throughout the school year on various topics. “I am excited that the educators and leaders at Marist High School recognize the unique and valuable benefits to providing students with advanced social-emotional skill development and resources,” Novak said. “I am a strong advocate for students and work hard to ensure they receive the services he or she may need. I am self-motivated and committed to learning new counseling methodologies that will maximize the social-emotional learning capacities of all students. I will work hard to provide compassionate, nonjudgmental support to students, their families, and school staff.”
Marist is constantly looking at the holistic needs of its school community. “From the ‘extremely complex’ to the ‘typical teenage’ problem, we recognize the ever changing, and evolving needs of our students,” said Christensen. “We recognize that all students’ needs are important within their high school and lifetime experience. By adding such a position, we are just reaffirming our desire to serve all students in our care in a uniquely Marist way.”
All students at Marist High School are assigned to a guidance counselor who stays with that student throughout their four years at the school. They meet periodically throughout the year providing students with three pillars of support—academic, college/career, and social/personal. The department also offers programming such as speakers, awareness events, and small groups on a variety of issues relevant to teens.