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Q & A with a social worker: Daniel Perez

School social worker Daniel Perez

Jacob Stillman and Ndunzi Kunsunga

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Q: What does your job as a social worker entail?

A: I work with all grades, 9-12. My job as a social worker has so many different halves. I get to be a short-term therapist, but also I get to assist kids with safety risks and suicide risks. I also get to help in regard of providing resources whether it’s medical, mental health, transportation, you name it. I also get to provide a safe space for them to process their life. Also to reassure them. I also collaborate a lot with parents and teachers on how to best support our students.

Q: How long have you been working here?

A: I started officially as a social worker paid by the school last year. This is my second year.

Q: Do you enjoy your job?

A: I love it. I mean I graduated from this high school, so I know a lot of the staff. A lot of them know me. But then I also volunteered and I’ve been an intern so I was always connected to Park. I’ve seen a lot of growth in the district and among the staff. So I really love my job because it allows me to build deep relationships with my students and all the students. But also the staff so I can have a deeper relationship with them and I can challenge them when I feel they need to be challenged on how to treat the kids as best as possible. Also in terms of age brackets adolescents are my forte. I (work) really well with 14 and older. Adolescents also teach me a lot.

Q: What do you dislike?

A: (I dislike) the bureaucracy. Sometimes it’s hard to change a district because of the policies and all the things that need to happen. So I guess I dislike how change can be really, really slow. 

Q: What have you learned from what you do?

A: I’m about to be a dad in January so I think one of the most valuable lessons that I keep learning and learning is being flexible, having expectations and being able to adapt those expectations. So you know being flexible and also learning that sometimes teen behavior is a symptom of a larger problem or a larger gift. Behaviors aren’t always bad. Most of the time they aren’t bad. Also the power of being vulnerable and open with people. One thing also is being firm along with flexible. I want to be (both) a flexible person but also firm.

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Q & A with a social worker: Daniel Perez