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Farragut schools social worker honored

Judy Claxton, the Tennessee school social worker assigned to Farragut Primary, Intermediate, Middle and High schools, was recently awarded the Beverly Diane Taylor School Social Worker of the Year award by Tennessee Association of School Social Workers.

Claxton is the first Knox County Schools social worker to win the award.

“It was a very nice surprise,” Claxton said.

The award was presented at TAASSW’s annual conference Sept. 25 in Memphis.

“Each year they choose a Tennessee School Social Worker of the Year. Nominations are made to a committee and the committee looks at them and considers them,” Claxton said.

Claxton has served the Knox County Schools system for 23 years.

“Over the years I have worked quite a few different schools, like inner city schools. Farragut High School and Farragut Middle School I have always worked, but I have not always had the primary and intermediate schools,” she said.

As a Tennessee school social worker, Claxton said she serves as the link between school and home for her students.

“We do home visits and that kind of thing. We look to any kind of needs students might have outside of the school systems, whether it is trouble getting medication, glasses, food, clothing, rent … whatever the need. Anything that is keeping a child from attending school regularly, that is what we are here for,” she added.

Whereas guidance counselors counsel students one-on-one, school social workers work with the student in conjunction with the family.

“I strongly feel parents need to be involved as much as they can with their child’s everyday work. Making sure they are going through that backpack … not being too busy to check with that child daily,” Claxton aid.

Claxton said she just “happened into” becoming a school social worker.

After graduating from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in social work, Claxton began working as a hospital social worker.

After discovering through her daughter’s Parent Teacher Association booklet that school social workers were needed, she began a internship with Knox County Schools, and 23 years later is still happy with her decision.

“I love my job,” she said.

“I wanted to be in a helping field and social work was my major from the beginning.”

Claxton said the most rewarding aspect of her job is seeing a child flourish.

“Seeing a child succeed, seeing a child wanting to come to school and turning around and coming regularly, having a positive experience.

“When I see a child overcoming whatever the obstacle was that was keeping them from attending, that is what it is about,” she added.

In order to qualify for nomination as a Tennessee School Social Worker of the Year one must: be certified as a licensed school social worker; have been employed at least three years in Tennessee as a school social worker; have maintained consecutive TASSW membership in good standing; have represented the professional ethics of social work and have made important achievements in the practice of school social work by effectively advocating for a client group, contributing to a positive image of the profession of school social work, demonstrating leadership qualities or having a knowledge of pressing social problems.


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