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Sup with the Sup
Sup with the Sup
Episode 32: School Social Workers with Marsha Baird

Welcome everyone to this week’s episode of Provo City School District’s What’s Up With the Sup podcast. I am Superintendent Wendy Dau and we have an exciting episode for you this week.

But before we listen to that episode, here are our updates.

  • If you are interested in hearing updates regarding the construction projects happening across the district, please visit the district website and click on the new construction newsletter sign up link. Newsletters will be sent out every two weeks.
  • The Board of Education currently has one new draft policy available for community input on the district website. From the main page of the district website, click on the Policies, Forms, and Documents button. On the next page, at the top left, there is an orange Review Draft Policies Here button. The new policy available for review is a draft Student Board Members and Student Advisory Council policy. We will accept feedback until our next policy committee meeting on Monday, March 25th, the policy committee will then review that feedback and take a final draft back to the board for review on April 16th.
  • Fifth grade parents, registration is underway for Camp Big Springs and has been extended to March 29th. There are still plenty of spots available. Remember, if your student would really like to attend camp, but you may need help paying the registration cost, there is a scholarship form available at the main office of your elementary school.
  • The next school board meeting will be an all day meeting on Friday, March 29th. The public is welcome to attend, but there will be no public comment. Look for the weekly video cast from me every Friday. In this short video, I provide important information and updates about work happening throughout the district.

Hello everyone. Our special guest this week on our podcast is Marsha Baird. She is one of our social workers at Timpanogos Elementary.

Wendy: Welcome.

Marsha: Thank you.

Wendy: Thank you. Part of why we wanted to talk with you today is because a few weeks ago It was school social worker week, and I wonder if people even know what social workers do in our schools because when I was growing up I had a really interesting view of what social workers did. I thought they all worked for department of child and family services. And so this, I think will give us an opportunity to kind of get a snapshot of a day in the life of a social worker. Are you excited?

Marsha: I am actually super excited because there’s a lot of misconceptions out there as to, what social workers do, or just the name social work.

Wendy: Yeah, that’s very true. But before we get started on that, tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about your background and maybe what drew you to social work. What were you doing prior to becoming a social worker?

Marsha: Well, I grew up in Trinidad, in the Caribbean, so you’ll probably hear some of my accent because it comes out when I start speaking, and I don’t have to concentrate as much. And what drew me towards social work is when I went to Ricks College back in 1994, I went to Chicago with the sociology department and worked with inner city kids and that was mind blowing to me. I just fell in love with those underprivileged kids. I thought I grew up poor. But when I saw some of the struggles those kids were having, I just knew I wanted to make a difference for them. And that’s kind of how my social work spark started is I wanted to work with kids, especially teenagers and kids.

Wendy: So tell us a little bit about how you become a social worker. So what is the process?

Marsha: It’s quite a process. Well, obviously you go to school. You can get a bachelor’s degree in social work. For four years you go to school and with all social work programs. You do have an internship However to become a school social worker in Provo or in Utah, you have to have a master’s degree and with that master’s degree doesn’t come with just graduation. You have to take a clinical test, which is, it’s a four hour test. And after that test, you have to also put in 4,000 clinical hours to get your licensure. You have to be supervised by a licensed clinical social worker. And that person signs off your hours, and then you submit all the paperwork into Doppel, and then you finally get your license.

Wendy: But you have to have a master’s degree to do that. So it’s actually additional steps to work in schools as a social worker.

Marsha: Yes.

Wendy: That’s awesome. So tell us a little bit about what a social worker does in general, and then I want you to kind of take us through, maybe a day or two or some of the different things that you do at Timpanogos Elementary in particular.

Marsha: A social worker does so many things and so I will probably just start with something recent. For example, I’ll give you a little, well, it’s not little, but I’ll try to talk briefly on some things that I did yesterday.

Wendy: Perfect.

Marsha: So I’ll give you an example of my day yesterday. So when I showed up yesterday, I had a meeting before school. We had our, our, uh, MERT training. After that, just before the bell rang, I was able to run outside and greet students as they came into the building. We had two new students yesterday show up to school. And so I helped them get to class. When students settled in, I had a couple students that were struggling prior to the week before, and so I had to check in with those students.

I also sat in a couple classes where one of my students in particular was doing some math in our dual Spanish class, and I pulled out my phone and did my Google translate and pulled up the problem in English so I can help her and she, oh, her eyes opened up big. She was like, what Ms. Marsha? I didn’t even know you could do that.

And so that was pretty cool for me. And then another student that was doing math in another class had a shutdown moment and was really, really struggling and a lot of negativity they were saying to themselves. So I was able to kind of coach them through that. The student was still very upset about that. Doing math and hated math. And so that was, that was a struggle for them in class, but I was able to just calm them down and at least get through the math, even though they were still struggling. During lunch, I had a referral from a teacher previously that I needed to check in with another student that had some safety concerns.

And so I was able to visit with that student. Just before the bell rang for me to go outside to lunch, I had a mom waiting in the front office for me that her student needed a coat. While I was talking to her about the student that needed the coat, I realized, hmm, I wonder if this mom knows about our school pantry. So then I took her to our school pantry and showed her what it looked like. By the time we got done, she got three boxes of food. I also encourage her to get on our social media pages because she was not aware of some of the resources we had at school. She was aware of the food bank that come once a month and that was it.

Then during lunch, I had another student that did not show up to class when the bell rang for another class period. So I said, Oh, I’ll go find her. And I was excited to find a student because the day before I took her and her siblings, a couple of garbage bags full of clothing that was donated through some people.

And so I was excited to see if she was wearing those clothes. And she was, and she was so excited to see me and show me all the clothes that she was wearing and told me how cute she looked and she loved her clothes. And she was modeling it for me. And normally this student is a real struggle to get back in the building, but because I had built this relationship with her and had already taken her those clothes and she knew it came from me.

She was so excited to show me and we talked and laughed all the way to class, which normally it’s a struggle and a shutdown. So that was a great moment for me there yesterday after lunch, it goes on.

Wendy: I know this is, this is all like, you’ve done all of this before lunch.

Marsha: This is before, yep. This is all before lunch.

Wendy: That’s amazing.

Marsha: Um, and let’s see just right after lunch while I was eating my lunch. I had a teacher text me that they needed to talk to me. So I stopped my lunch, ran over to talk to the teacher, caught him just before they went out to recess or to lunch and the teacher told me that there were two siblings that were crying.

And so I visited with those kids for 30 minutes about what they were going through. And let’s see. Uh, greeted more students and parents outside at the end of the day, came in to visit with a couple more teachers at the end of the day to see what concerns they had. Well, I have to back up. So just before the bell rang, you know, we had those two new students that came in from the morning.

I had told mom that I would walk them to the different doors because at Timpanogos, each grade comes out at different doors. And so while I was greeting parents outside, I remembered, Oh, the new student, I got to go find him to take him to his younger sibling. So I ran across the other side of the building and then took that student to his sibling.

The sibling had to have testing with the teacher right after school. So then I reentered the school, let them back into the building to meet with the teachers to get that testing done and it’s not over. I’m sure not. I got up to my office, I received a call from another social worker that needed some help with some situations that were happening at their school, had to do some coordination, contacted parents, and my day normally ends with a lot of long entries because now I have to document everything that I did because in social work, if you don’t document it, we have a saying that if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.

So we have to do our paperwork and yeah, that’s a full day. That’s a mouthful. That’s just one day. And then what that means is, is once the students are out of the building, that’s when you’re doing all of that documenting, answering emails, following up with phone calls.

Wendy: That’s a very, very full day for you.

Marsha: That’s correct. And also checking in with teachers that may have needed support during the day, and then you just follow up with them to see how things were going. Or if you even walk down the hallway, you get called, Hey,

Wendy: I’m sure, I’m sure there isn’t a day where you walk down the hall and someone doesn’t pull you off track and pull you into their classroom and ask for some help.

So tell us a little bit about what the differences between being a school social worker versus being a social worker that might be in private practice or work for division of child and family services or something like that.

Marsha: So the difference between what we do and I would say private practice and even like Wasatch Mental Health, um, social workers or DCFS, their job is very specific.

They just do that. Most private practice just do clinical work. They just do therapy. Whereas a school social worker, we are doing home visits. We’re getting clothes and resources for families. We are doing class presentations. We’re helping out with the wellness room. We’re doing crisis and working with the mobile crisis unit.

We are doing DCFS referrals. We’re doing Hope Squads, Kindness Clubs. Empowerment group, social skill group, grief group, friendship groups, emotional regulation groups. Uh, we’re coordinating with our SROs. Uh, we’re also coordinating with the 512 Foundation. Um, there is just, we do everything that every other social worker does.

On top of the clinical stuff, where we also do therapy. If you’re helping out to just help a student, like, regulate their behavior or something like that, that isn’t something where you have to have a permission form signed by a parent, but when you’re actually going to work with a student in terms of therapy, then that’s something where you’re bringing in the parent, and that’s something that they’re requesting.

Wendy: Or talk with us a little bit about that. I’ve had in the past parents that are like, don’t let my child talk to a social worker. And I’m like, what? Why would you do that? Like, they are the most helpful resource in the building. Like, they are incredible and they have an amazing skill set. So talk with us a little bit about that.

Marsha: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. First of all, when we do have a student that’s struggling and have that emotional irregulation going on, we would meet with them because they’re in a crisis. So we meet with that student. Our next step is we contact the parents to let them know that we have met with the student and ask the parents, would you like us to continue to meet with your student and provide some additional supports, whether that’s counseling, therapy, whatever it may be.

And if the parents agree to that, then we send out a permission slip and we let the parents know we’d like you to sign this permission slip so that I can meet with your students regularly. We have them sign it. We make sure we wait for that signature or even a verbal approval because sometimes if, you know, the parents are also busy.

And that student has another emotional regulation, outburst tomorrow. And we don’t have that parent permission slip, but we had spoken to the parent and gotten that verbal. We can meet with that student and let the parent know, hey, we’ve met with them again, just waiting for the permission slip. So yes, we do have to get a permission slip once we’re meeting with parents regularly.

One time at Timpanogos last year, I had a parent come into the front office and they were like, the minute I introduced myself and told her I was the school social worker, her walls went up, her spikes went up, she just, claws were out, and she just had a panic attack just by meeting me. She said to her student who was standing next to her, because I have just been not meeting with the student in any way for therapy, just building rapport because the student was new to our school and was just kind of, you know, hesitant being there.

And so I was just communicating and connecting with that student. And so I think the student went home and told mom, you know, Hey, this nice lady at school, her name is Miss Marsha. I really like her. Um, she’s so good. And you know, after weeks of that, she’s like, I kind of want to meet with you more often.

So I told her I need to get a permission slip from your mom to actually meet with you and not just like hang out with you outside or talk to you in your classroom.

And so then one mom came in and found out I was a social worker. She panicked because she has had such a bad experience with social workers. She just did not have a good relationship. So at first she was really scared and I was able to calm her nerves and just say I am so sorry that you’ve had that experience. All the things your daughter have said, I’m glad she has told you the different side of a social worker. And now that you’ve met me, she’s like, I’ve seen you outside.

I didn’t even know you were the social worker. And so I think for her, she had that trauma just coming out rushed right back at her. And then she was able to be calm and she did sign the permission slip eventually. And then said, I would love for her to meet with you. And I am so glad that now I know the different side of social work.

Wendy: That’s a great example. And I appreciate so much that you’re talking about and addressing how we work together with parents to help their students be in a place where they can be successful at school. I find a lot of times people are not recognizing how much we’re including the parents and making sure they’re part of this process.

Marsha: That’s really important. Yes. Well, as a social worker too, we realized that when you’re working with the student, you have to work with the family.

Wendy: That’s right. You have to work with every aspect of that child’s life so that they can be successful. That’s incredible. Why did you decide you wanted to do school social work instead of being in private practice? What directed you in that way?

Marsha: So, yeah, I did my internship at the state hospital here in Provo, and I also did my internship at Independence High School. That was back in 1998, and I was running groups and, you know, I got, Greg Hudnall at the time was the student services director, and he approached me and came to my class while I was doing my internship there at a time. And I think he was impressed with what I was doing with the kids and the relationship I had with them. And asked if I wanted to become the gang prevention specialist for Provo School District. And I was like, what? Provo has gangs? I didn’t even know Utah had gangs. And so, um, so he hired me to do that as a social worker.

So after my internship and working with the kids in the schools, I really just gravitated to that and felt like I could make a huge impact on students.

Wendy: What schools besides Timpanogos have you worked at or would tell us a little bit about your history in Provo City School District?

Marsha: So I did gang prevention for 10 years and I worked in all the secondary schools. So Provo High, Timpview, Independence, Centennial and Dixon and then I also worked at Timpanogos, Franklin and I believe it was Farrer. At the time, Farrer Middle School. And so I was district wide, um, working secondary schools, and then I had a few elementary schools because the siblings of those secondary kids were at the elementary school, so we were having some problems there.

And then I took eight years off, had my kids, did truancy school and the PRA, drug and alcohol prevention class for the district, while I stayed home with my kids, and then came back in 2015 and was helping again with the secondary schools and then kind of got back into gang prevention. And then the last four years I’ve been asked to work at Timpanogos because they wanted social workers in each school.

And in order for that to happen, I believe they didn’t want to lose me. With the gang grant as well and so they asked if I would move to the elementary schools, and I really, I cried. I cried for about two days because, I just Oh, little kids, they’re just, they’re going to make me cry every day because they’re just so sweet and bad things happen to them and, and out of their control.

And I just was so emotional about that. And I have loved my secondary students. And so now that I am in elementary school, I’m like, Oh my goodness, I love my secondary kids, but I love, love my elementary kids.

Wendy: Oh, that’s incredible. Provo City School District’s one of the only districts that really prioritizes social workers. So we have a social worker in every single school. There are a couple of other districts that have followed that model, but few do tell us what kind of impact that has, because as I’ve been out talking with faculties at schools, one of the things, when I asked them, what’s something that you want to make sure that we keep hands down every single time they say, don’t take our social worker. And so it speaks volumes to the incredible work that you do in our schools. Talk about it more as an organizational structure, like what kind of difference this is making for our students because we’re prioritizing this district wide.

Marsha: I’m glad you asked that question because working for the district, as long as I have worked, I remembered back in the day where there were five of us. Way before, and we were divided several schools and I have worked with all of the administrations, all the counselors, most of the teachers, not all of them. And I thought I knew the school cause I mean, I thought I knew the district cause I’ve been here for 20 years now that I am in a school, just one school, it is the difference between night and day.

I have connections and relationships at Timpanogos with my teachers, with my admin, with every staff and every person in the building and every student in the building, compared to when I was working district wide and I was bouncing from school to school to school to school, the relationships were not there. The connection wasn’t there. I was doing my job and I was available to help when needed. But being in a school, I’m always available and the relationships make a big difference. Building the relationship I have with students, some of them don’t even know I’m a social worker. They just think I’m a teacher, I’m the dance party lady, because every last Friday of the month I do a dance party outside with the kids.

And so when they’re struggling and they come visit with me and realize who I am and what I do, it’s so easy for them to talk to me. As well as the staff. I mean, we all go through hard things. I know every teacher by name. I go by their classroom. I check in with them. It’s a dream over there at Timpanogos.

We are just so connected and we’re so supportive of each other. Everyone, everyone fills in, everyone helps out, whether it’s the psychologist, whether it’s a special ed department, whether it’s the front office, whether it’s the lunch ladies, everyone is just so willing to help and support each other. And I think that is like just such an amazing environment.

And I, I feel like most of the schools are like that with their social workers, because being in the building and always available, you get to know. The connections. All the teachers have my cell number. It’s really just fabulous to have a social worker in each school. And it’s crazy to me how busy we all are.

Because I remembered when I was going from different schools. I had six schools. I wasn’t even as busy as I am with my one school.

Wendy: Right. I think too, one of the things that I’ve seen It’s just the connections you build with families and then how you can connect them if they need additional resources to things outside, you know, of the school itself. And just knowing what those needs are. It’s almost impossible to do that when you are working across several schools.

Marsha: Yes, yes. And my big connection with families is I love to be out there in the morning.

Wendy: I know. I see you every single morning. It’s amazing.

Marsha: And I love to be out there in the afternoons, because I want parents to know that I’m approachable. They can come say hi to me anytime. And I’m like a social butterfly. I’m always saying hi to people. That’s just me. That’s just my nature, but I love people and you know, people have hard things. And as a person myself, you know, we know nobody goes that. Ask for help. You know, people are prideful. People don’t want to go say, I don’t have food to eat or my kids has holes in their shoes and I can’t afford shoes. Like nobody wants to go up to someone and say, Can you please help my kid buy a shoe?

And so I love to empathize with these families and not just empathize, but also reach out to them in such a way so that they don’t feel embarrassed to come to us for help or to come to us for support because I’m reaching out saying, Hey, what do you need? What do you need? If I don’t have it, I’ll find it. What do you need?

Wendy: That’s right. And you’ve built that trust with them so they know that they can seek that help from you. Tell us a little bit about maybe how some individuals ask the question sometimes, well, if you have a counselor in a school, why do you also need to have a social worker? If you have a school psychologist, how come you also have to have a social worker? And I’ve always seen those as being very complimentary roles, but very important and different roles. Can you talk a little bit about that as you know, we’re making budgetary priorities, right? And so we want our people to understand why we’re prioritizing these specific things in our district because they’re so important. But maybe you could speak to that a little bit.

Marsha: Our district is very unique in the sense that I just went to the social work conference last week. Okay. And it was interesting to hear the different roles those social workers played in their district. And some of them had zero support. Some of them had some support.

Some of them had amazing support like we, we do in Provo. And even in the state of Utah, social workers have different roles in the schools as well. I love that in our district though, our psychologist role is so important. so different and so specified as far as doing all those testing, because I work really close with Brad Crockett at my school, and what he does is completely different from what I do as far as doing his testing and, and getting those things done with special ed and coordinating.

His role is completely different, whereas when I went to my conference, some of those social workers were doing those psychologist things. And that’s not part of our social work role. And then in the high schools and in the middle schools, the counselors and the social workers roles are very different, whereas the counselors role, they do a lot of the class scheduling.

And I have worked so closely with some of those counselors, especially at Provo High. I kind of get a glimpse as to what they do, especially closer to graduation, um, because always a fun time for a counselor.

Wendy: Yeah.

Marsha: Cause I am there with them knocking on doors, getting kids to come to summer school to get them graduated. And I had a glimpse of what they do and their role is very different from our role when it comes to, knowing all those things that they’ve got to do to get those kids graduated and to work into their schedules and things like that. And I feel like in our high schools, our counselors are really good with building relationships with those students and their caseload is huge as well.

And so I think they’re really good at referring kids to the social workers for those intense conversations or those intense follow up or continuous services where, you know, a home visit might be made, a permission slip might be needed because this kid needs some counseling. And so it’s, it’s very different roles that we play in Provo School District.

Wendy: And I feel like one of the reasons why it works is because everybody’s kind of understanding what their role is and they’re cooperating and working together for the student, but we don’t have this kind of weirdness of like who handles what it feels like that people are understanding what those roles are.

Marsha: Yes. And I know for sure, like for example, at my school, with my school psychologist, with Mr. Crockett, if I’m not there and I’m at a meeting or I get a text, I say, hey, Mr. Crockett, I have this kid that’s struggling with this. Will you just follow up for me and check in with them? And he’s like, of course, he will. And if he’s gone, he texts me. I will follow up with one of his special ed kids if they needed assistance with something. And so we do work hand in hand as well. We do coordinate because some of the special ed kids also work with the psychologists, with the special ed department, and then we all coordinate and help as we can.

Wendy: That’s awesome. People might not know that our schools have student success teams where we’re talking about an, you know, a student that might be struggling in particular and trying to figure out how to help the student be successful. Do you feel like is your role in that process to help our students be successful?

Marsha: I love how our student success team operates because the first part of our meeting, we talk about the kids that are struggling emotionally, behaviorally, other things. And then the second part is where the teacher comes in with more academic concerns. That’s a great way to run that. And so my role in the first part is mostly I just sit, listen, and obviously if there’s an emotional need or any type of resources or any outreach that’s needed. I have an amazing family advocate, Claudia, who helps me with so much. We do a lot of home visits together. She’s amazing at getting so many resources for families. And so as a team, we talk about, okay, what is best needed for this student? And then we all take assignments. We all take assignments like, okay, if there’s something with behavior, our behavioral specialist is on that. I have to maybe go and do like a family assessment. I’ll take on that role if our 504 coordinator is in there and we need something done with, maybe they need accommodations for something. If our ELL student needs something, Kate Pace is also there. We just have – just this amazing system at Timpanogos in our SST meeting. So if you ever have a chance and you want to come visit, come check it out.

Wendy: That sounds like a great, a great place to come and observe and see how all of you work together to help students.

Marsha: And an example of the later part of the meeting. So when the teachers come in, for example, two weeks ago we had a teacher come in and there was a student that is in kindergarten and that’s really struggling with their letters, only knows a few letters. And so Claudia and I volunteered to go do a home visit and Claudia is amazing. She printed out everything that kid needed for kindergarten, where they needed to be. We took that to the parent to say, this is what we need your student to, to be up to par. Can you help them with this information? And, we just took mom a huge packet of stuff to make her aware that these are the things that are needed. Again, in that meeting, we have just this pool of knowledge. And as we discuss students, then everyone just says, Oh, I can do that. I will do that role. I will do that. I will take on that. And nobody steps on each other’s toes. We’re just really good at what we do.

Wendy: I think that’s really important that you’re willing to step up and, and you divide up the work, right? Because if it’s always the same person that’s doing all of it, that gets very overwhelming very, very fast.

Marsha: Yeah, yeah.

Wendy: What would surprise people to know about the difficulties that some of our families face at Timpanogos, for example, or in Provo City School District as a whole?

Marsha: I think people would be surprised to know how many families are homeless, living maybe in a hotel or doubling up with someone else, or living in their cars. How many families don’t have food. How many unemployed families we have, how many families work two and three jobs just to make ends meet, how many kids we have that don’t have, I should say, well, even Spanish speakers. I know in Timpanogos, we have a lot of kids that only speak Spanish. We also have a lot of families who only speak Spanish and don’t know any English. They’ll probably be surprised to know that we have families that want to, want to work, but can’t. They’ll be surprised to know how many migrant families we have, how many new to the country families we have that come here with nothing, absolutely nothing. Their kids have maybe nothing to eat, two or three outfits. We’ve had a family that came and came into the front office asking for underwear because their kids only had what they came with, and so some of it is very heartbreaking, but some of it is very exhilarating for me because I’m ready to say, what do you need? Okay, Claudia, let’s get to work. You know at one point at the beginning of the year, we were so overwhelmed because I think we have over, I want to say, maybe in November, we had at least 35 to 40 new families to the country. And I’m sure our number has grown since then. And so every three days, I was calling Claudia. Hey, I need to come up and get clothes for this kid, this kid, this kid, this kid. And, you know, the resources are out there. We just have to reach. And, and there it is. But if we don’t know what the families need, we can’t help them.

Wendy: That’s right.

Marsha: But we have, I think they’ll be surprised to know how many families that we have that show up with nothing and, and then, you know, we expect those kids to just learn and just be up to par.

Wendy: Well, we’ve got to meet them on those basic Maslow’s. Yes, hierarchy. And we’ve got to meet them with that basic need. Do they have food? Do they have clothes? Do they have shelter? And we have to start there. So it’s amazing to me, too. I was talking with principal Rawlins about this and she was indicating the same thing about how many new students were coming in that were from out of the country and kids who’ve never been in school. And so a lot of the things that we take for granted in terms of this is how school works, you’re starting from scratch with that because there, there isn’t an understanding sometimes, not in every case, but there are a few where that, where that is the case too, and just acclimating them to what school is and what we do.

Marsha: Yeah. Yeah.

Wendy: Yes, well, I want to also just highlight a couple of other things because our social workers do things more than just social work and you have had a very rich and awesome experience. You’ve been in the Olympics and I just want you to tell us a little bit about your journey in that respect so that people get to know a little bit of who Miss Marsha is and what do you love to do besides social work?

Marsha: Well, I, I like people to know that Miss Marsha is just as normal as everybody else. She may have this hidden talent. Well, it’s not that hidden because if you Google my name, it’s all over the internet. Um, yes, I am a two time Olympian. Um, And luckily, when I went to the Olympics, I worked for Provo School District, so it was a huge deal for our district to have this athlete that was an Olympian compete and also represent in Provo School District.

Um, so I went to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, and it was just an amazing experience. Because now, I mean, I look at Olympians and they are like superhumans. I don’t see myself as a superhuman.

Wendy: Oh, you’re definitely a superhuman.

Marsha: Um, but I love to crochet. I love to make jam. I’m still competing. I leave today, actually, to go to nationals, indoor nationals in Chicago, where I compete in my age group, 50 to 54. You know, it’s not embarrassing to say my age because it’s all over the internet too. My birthday’s there. Everything is there about me. So I love connecting with people. That’s my favorite thing to do is I love my friendships and I have friendships in every aspect of my life. I love my kids. I have three boys that are very active, two into football, one into basketball. Band. All three of them do track. My husband works at BYU. He’s also a musician. He’s also a photographer. I live in an amazing neighborhood. I have just the best supports around me and, you know, just, I’m just a fun person to be around.

Wendy: Yeah. Well, that’s definitely clear,

Marsha: But I’m approachable. I’m approachable. I don’t like people to put me on a pedestal because I am on the same level as you, and some days you might have to pick me up, and some days I may have to pick you up, but we’re all human and we all go through struggles together, and some people go through more than others, but I am just a person just like you, and I’m just trying to serve and help as much as I can and hopefully what I do and how I serve and give back, I hope that those people that I give back to remember that so that they can also serve and give back, maybe when their circumstances get better or even when they’re having a hard time. They just remember that, Hey, maybe I can serve somebody else and that will help take away my woes because now I’m doing good for other people.

Wendy: And that’s going to come back at you someday. That’s a great way to think about that. And, and I really appreciate what you said about sometimes you’re going to have different days where today I’m feeling pretty good, but tomorrow I might not be. It really is about helping one another out so that we can get through this kind of tricky thing called life, basically, but we need each other for sure.

Marsha: I’ll share a situation that happened to me this school year with one of my third grade class. And so I was having a really hard day, like something had gone totally wrong at work and I had made a poor decision and I felt horrible about myself. And I was in the verge of tears. Like I was having a hard day. And the teacher had walked down the hall and asked if I was okay. And I said, it’s just, it’s one of those, I’m just, I’m struggling today. And later that day, the teacher had her entire class write me notes of appreciation. And they called me into the class and I had my intern with me. And they called me into the class and they just wanted to all tell me how much they appreciate me and, and then I just lost it. I just started sobbing in front of the class. And I, it was a good teachable moment for the class as well. And I just told them, I said, you guys remember when you have hard days at school? It’s hard. Like I’m having one of those right now. And guess who made it better for me? And so I want you to remember this very moment that when somebody else is having a hard day, don’t be mean to them just because they’re mean to you. Learn to understand that when people are having a hard day, To be kind, because that’s what you guys are doing for me right now. So it was a great teachable moment for them and for me. And, you know, to know that those kids look up to me, and they were supporting me in a hard time. And so it was a great teachable moment. And I, today, still love that class so much. I have so many classes I love. All of them. Every single class I go to. But what those kids also saw was just the tremendous impact they had on you, so that their actions can lead to these positive results for, for others as well, which is pretty incredible. And it was also a good vulnerable moment for me because I wanted them to see that I’m human too, I have hard days, I cry too.

Wendy: And I think that is important for our kids to see that adults don’t have it all figured out. We, we struggle just as much as they do and, and we have to rely on one another to get through that. So, well, it has been a joy to talk to you today. So thank you so much for being on our podcast. Is there anything else you want to share as we close this episode?

Marsha: This has been fun. I just hope that anyone that listens to this, hopefully your perspective has changed on social workers because we’re also humans, but we do everything. So one of my social workers had shared with me, they said, tell them that every day is very different. We never know what we’re going to get when we walk in the door, we bend, we stretch, we multitask, we reach, we cheer, we play, we laugh and we support each other.

In many ways to help advocate for our families, students, teachers, and staff. That’s what we do. And we come and we do it every day, day in and day out. And we just do our best.

Wendy: That’s a great quote to end on. So thank you again for being on our show. It has been a pleasure to talk with you. And I, I really do hope that our families and our communities really begin to understand the important role that social workers play in our community, but especially in our schools. Because the work that you do makes it so that kids can learn and be successful not just in their academics but in life and that’s a really powerful thing. So thank you for all the work that you do.

Marsha: Thank you for having me.

Wendy: Thank you everyone for joining me for this week’s episode of What’s Up with the Sup. As always, all episodes will be posted on the district website, YouTube, and anywhere you get your podcasts. If you have any topics or questions you would like us to discuss on the podcast, please email us at

As always, next week we will have an all new episode of What’s Up with the Sup. See you next time.

Shauna Sprunger
  • Coordinator of Communications
  • Shauna Sprunger