May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month, and to promote positive self-esteem in students, Benjamin Logan Schools social worker Emily Pool has developed daily “self-esteem tips” to post on social media throughout May.

Pool is tasked with improving the social and psychological functioning of students in the district. She spends time weekly in each building, though the greatest need for services tends to be at the middle school and high school, she said.

A child of local educators, Charles and Cinda Blair, it was her dream to bring social work services to schools in her community. A Logan County native, she spent 19 years at Logan County Children’s Services in various capacities, including creating and implementing a school services position to improve relationships and communication with Logan County schools.

Pool took a position in 2014 as an outpatient therapist at Consolidated Care Inc. (now TCN Behavioral Health) in Bellefontaine. In this position, she gained experience and a passion for mental health services. One of her duties in this position was providing counseling to students at Benjamin Logan Schools.

In the spring of 2018, Benjamin Logan created a school social worker position in response to students’ need for mental health services and Pool was offered the position and said she was excited to continue working in the district.

“Benjamin Logan School District is special. It feels like a family. The staff are truly dedicated to the education and well-being of students.

“Our students at Benjamin Logan and their families are outstanding, too. I am thankful everyday to work in a job where I am able to build relationships with so many great people.”

Building relationships with her students and their families and creating a safe and trusted space where they can talk about whatever challenge they may be facing is a big part of her work.

“Relationships are so important. Research indicates that young people do best when they experience strong, positive relationships. Some of the benefits include increased academic motivation; increased social-emotional growth and learning; increased sense of personal responsibility; and reduced engagement in a variety of high-risk behaviors,” she said.

Pool has learned a lot about technology since schools have implemented remote learning. It is more difficult to maintain contact with students when school is not in session, but like everyone else during this time, she is improvising.

“I have tried to be creative in developing ways to continue to support students and families during this time. I want folks to feel comfortable, so they decide what method of communication we will use and we make it work!

“I have shared so many resources with students, staff and families that they might be getting annoyed by now. I hope they know I just want to support them. If I see something that I think can help, I pass it along.”

On a typical day, Pool meets with students who have been referred to her by building guidance counselors, administrators and caregivers. Occasionally, students have referred themselves or their friends for services. She also works closely with the school’s counselors, psychologist, and nurse to address the concerns of high-needs students and those receiving services.

The social worker also lends assistance to teachers and classrooms in need of support or to students who have been pulled out of class and may be struggling, and also facilitates a weekly social/emotional skills class at the high school.

Pool, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wright State University and master’s degree from The Ohio State University in social work, also engages in regular collaboration opportunities with other social workers in the community, including the Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign counties, various local health care and behavioral health care providers and social service agencies.

“Our community partners are vital. They have supported us through tragedies that have impacted our staff and students. They help us gather information about our students’ needs through surveys and screenings.

“They guide us in implementing quality prevention efforts to support our students and provide or assist us with the resources to do so,” she said.