From the MSW Internship Program at the UALR School of Social Work

Focus on the Field, Featuring Kathy James pictureAs a first year student in UALR’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program, Kathy James spends a lot of time analyzing research, arguing theories, and debating social policy. She also spends a lot of time playing with four-year olds.
As part of her graduate degree curriculum, Kathy interns at the Sammie Gail Sanders Children’s Learning Center in North Little Rock. She is a Consultant-in-training for Project Play, a state initiative that links early childhood mental health consultants with pre-k classrooms. “Too many developmentally delayed kids are getting expelled from kindergarten for bad behavior,” Kathy says. “Many of these children come from extremely difficult backgrounds. They need some help along the way.” Kathy cites convincing research that demonstrates Project Play’s effectiveness in kindergarten success. Right now she is working on a child-specific case where she facilitates a team that includes a 4-year-old girl and her guardian, her pre-k teachers, and the child’s expected kindergarten school. They want to be sure there is a plan in place for the child that accounts for her unique disabilities. Kathy says that, “Without guidance as a team, this child has a high chance of getting expelled from kindergarten.”
Kathy’s field instructor, Betsy Johnson, says, “This is the first time I have had a student doing this, and it is working out great. She’s helping us in a center where we wouldn’t have a consultant otherwise.” And Kathy feels she is succeeding too. She’s rubbing shoulders with professionals she admires, and says her training has already been broad and diverse. “It’s a really good program. I feel that I am helping to build our future – the next generation.” This aligns with Kathy’s career goals. “After almost 15 years of corporate sales, I decided I wanted a more meaningful career. So I went back to school, and my husband supported me.” Kathy’s internship is the first part of a two-year practicum that gives MSW students the experience they need to hit the ground running when they graduate. Kathy gets excited when she talks about her future in social work. “I was thinking about doing geriatrics, but I really enjoy my internship and so right now I’m thinking about a new direction.”

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