Christine Dean joined the district as a licensed clinical social worker last winter, and over the last eight months, many students and families may have already had an opportunity to meet and work with Christine.
Christine's impact in the district has already been profound, but her role is often a supporting one, and therefore some families might not be aware of Christine or her services.
We wanted to take an opportunity to focus on Christine's role and contribution to the district, in hopes of giving students, staff, and families clarity about the role and resources Christine provides.
Q: Hi, Christine. Can you tell us your title and credentials, and what they mean?
A: Christine Dean, MSW, LCSW.
I am a licensed clinical social worker at Gundersen St. Joseph’s Hospital and Clinics. I am a fully licensed therapist.
My position is contracted to work at Hillsboro Schools providing support to students, families, and staff district-wide. I have a master's degree in social work and a master's degree in education.
Q: So, what does a Student and Family Support Specialist actually do?
A: My role provides multi-levels of support to everyone in the district.
I meet with small groups of students to teach them life skills and to facilitate conversations. I also meet with individuals for supportive counseling sessions. For families, I can help to coordinate services with other programs such as Coulee Cap, Badgercare, Food Share, and local resources such as the food pantry and local charities. I am also a support person for staff, especially as it pertains to challenging student situations.
Q: Which building do you work in?
A: I have a space in both buildings. At the elementary school, I have a space where I can work with small groups of students and do interactive learning activities. At the high school, I have a private office for supportive counseling. I also use a classroom to provide group instruction.
Q: What does that instruction look like?
A: At all levels, I provide small groups with instruction based on Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction Social Emotional Learning standards. The groups are basically short units on life skills. Wisconsin’s Social Emotional Learning standards have three domains: Emotional Development, Self-concept, and Social Competence.
Q: So, how is your role different than that of a school counselor?
A: It looks quite different, actually. My position is more of a supportive professional role, though I do work closely with school counselors, special education, administrators, and classroom teachers. I also provide social work services for the district including school attendance issues, student check-ins, crisis intervention, and student success plans.
Q: We’ve heard you’re working on a pilot program for high school students, can you tell us about that?
A: A new offering this year at the high school level is “Hot Topic!”. It’s going to be a voluntary group activity for students to be able to share their insights and be heard about topics that affect them at the school, local, state, national, and world levels. Over the course of the last year, we learned that students want more of a voice and to be heard about issues that affect teens and adolescents. I will be piloting this group during high school study halls and it will be a voluntary opportunity for anyone free that hour.
Q: How can district parents and guardians access your programs and resources?
A: Parents are always welcome. I have an open-door policy. Basically, my door is open anytime that I am not in a private conversation and therefore anyone is welcome to enter (but, please check in the office first). I am present at most family events in the district such as Child Development Days, Elementary Literacy Night, and this year I'll have a table set up at Registration Day. I am responsive to emails and phone calls, but know that I do not provide a crisis line. However, I will help parents to access crisis services during regular school hours. I can also provide parents with information and resources for childhood and adolescent mental health concerns.
Q: For those who think you look familiar, how might someone in the community know you?
A: I had worked at Gundersen St. Joseph’s for eleven years as a social worker and therapist. I also ran with the Hillsboro EMS squad for several years. I love Hillsboro and feel at home here. You may already know me from one of my previous roles, but I will never disclose any private information that I may have already learned from any previous setting.
Q: Finally, on a more personal level, do you have anything about yourself that you’d like to share?
A: I am married and we are a blended family. We have five children at various stages of adolescence and adulthood. We have one dog named Jewel. I like camping, art, going to our kids' sporting events, and traveling. I do not like to cook, but I do love to eat other people’s cooking!