When we found out that the theme for this year's National School Social Work Week was "Time to Shine," we immediately thought there was no more perfect time to put a spotlight on our district's own social worker and ray of sunshine, Mrs. Ashley Rinehart. Ashley dedicates her professional life to helping our most vulnerable students and their families by providing a link to school and community resources during times of crises. When you first meet Ashley, you immediately sense her inner calmness, gentleness and peace--a trait that immediately puts so many of the students and their families at ease who are going through periods of instability, such as homelessness. Even though schools have been employing social workers for decades, many people don't know that the services that Ashley provides are here--until they may need her. We hope you'll take a moment to get to know more about her, her work, and what makes her shine:
Q: For someone who doesn't know, what does your job encompass? What does a typical day look like for you?
A: A typical day can be organized chaos most of the time and it varies day to day based on the needs of the district. Often it's filling out homeless status intakes, taking out resources to students/families, referring students to various community programs, and working on distributing mental health surveys.
A: I have been a social worker since January of 2015, so seven total years. This is my third year at Exeter. Prior to Exeter I worked in schools, in mental health, at children & youth services, and in case management.
Q: Did you do anything prior to becoming a social worker? If so, what? Why did you change your career?
A: I had part time jobs in college as a tour guide. As soon as I graduated from college I started my social work career. I have always known though that I wanted to be a school social worker.
A: My favorite part of my job is getting to know the students and families in our community. I love helping people and this job allows me to do that.
Q: What's the most challenging part of your job?
A: The most challenging part of my job is finding the appropriate resources for families and students when COVID has caused a lot of agencies to downsize or close. There are so many great services in our community but they have struggled through the pandemic as well. It can be really difficult to address specific needs when there aren't as many resources as there usually are.
Q: If you were talking to someone who knew nothing about your work, how would you complete this sentence? “People are surprised to learn that I….”
Q: The theme for this year’s National School Social Workers Week is "Time to Shine.” What does that mean to you?
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share?