Member Spotlight: Donilee Alexander-Goldsmith, MSW, LCSW, School Social Worker
Longtime NASW member Donilee Alexander-Goldsmith, MSW, LCSW, has faced serious disruptions to her field of school social work due to the pandemic. Here, she shares how COVID-19 affected her young clients, how NASW benefits helped support her throughout her 30-year career, and what advice she gives to social work students and early-career school social workers.
“Students experienced a gap in education and socialization, and for many of [them], trauma and a loss of connection,” Alexander-Goldsmith explains. “In addition, the pandemic shed a light on the inequities present in our communities and institutions.
“We continually strive to increase our culturally responsive practices and increase equitable outcomes for all of our students. We’ve seen an increase in serious mental health issues and substance use and a loss of age-appropriate social skills. We’ve also seen increased problems related to interactions on social media.”
Based in Seneca Ridge Middle School in Loudoun County, Alexander-Goldsmith leaned on NASW to help support her during the Public Health Emergency. “I feel like the most valuable benefit we have is the advocacy the chapter and organization do on behalf of social workers and the people we serve,” says Alexander-Goldsmith.
“Being involved in the Virginia Chapter for so many years, I have witnessed the hours spent gathering information, advocating, and speaking on behalf of the issues that matter so much to us.”
“In addition, the ability to reach out to the chapter with questions and in seek of support is a truly invaluable benefit,” she notes. “Executive Director Debra Riggs is a wealth of information and a staunch advocate for our members. NASW provides support to those new to the profession and those of us who have been practicing for many years.”
Alexander-Goldsmith encourages emerging social workers to “seek out continued education in areas such as special education and educational disabilities, culturally responsive teaching and services, data collection, crisis response, and social emotional learning. As social workers, we are advocates for all students, and we need continuous growth in our own equity journey.”