Position: Social Worker
School: Lowrie Elementary School
School District: School District U-46
City, State: Elgin, Illinois
About the Nominee: Ashley Talip was nominated by David O'Donnell, a member of the community. Ms. Talip always gives as much of her time and money as she can to the students of Lowrie Elementary. Her nominator, David, states that he’s never met anyone that goes so far above and beyond what is expected from them, and he wanted to do his best to prove it. David went around the school and spoke with the staff about nominating her for LifeChanger of the Year. Every response he received had two things in common: authentic excitement and a resounding "she deserves it." The remainder of this profile is a collection of responses from the staff at Lowrie Elementary, where 87% of the students economically disadvantaged as determined by qualification for free/reduced lunch, and the majority of students speak English as a second language.
David posed a simple question: What is something Ms. Talip does that would make her deserving of the LifeChanger of the Year award? The following is a list of responses:
--Ms. Talip supervises breakfast duty every other week, where she is able to greet the students in the morning, help them open up their food, teach them social skills and proper table manners while in the cafeteria and learn new things about them.
--She is a PBIS Tier 2 Check-in/Check-out coach for students, meeting with them every morning to see how they are doing. She gives students their sheets and helps them set behavioral and academic goals for their day. At the end of the day, the students check-out with her, where they discuss, celebrate and set goals for the next day.
--Ms. Talip is part of the MTSS team, PBIS Universal/Leadership Team, PBIS Tier 2/Tier 3 Team and Attendance Team. In addition, she makes herself available to meet and collaborate with staff members, as well as answer answer emails, phone calls and texts from colleagues at all hours of the day, nights, and weekends.
--As part of the attendance team, Ms. Talip created attendance check-in/check-out for students who have chronic absences or tardies. The intervention begins after a meeting with the students’ parents. Each morning, they check-in with the school nurse. The students earn points, stickers or another reward for arriving at school on time each day, and they work towards a prize that is individualized for them. The whole school also participates in an attendance incentive game to encourage all students to be at school on time each day. Classrooms are competing against each other for prizes, as well.
--Ms. Talip is part of the Social Work Department Committee. This team helps makes decisions for all of the district social workers.
--She is in charge of compiling, creating, selling and distributing the school yearbook each year. She also does bus duty at dismissal time to be able to spend time with the students and find out how their day went.
--Ms. Talip has provided immediate mental health support to countless students who were in crisis and is able to delegate to the appropriate professionals when necessary.
--For three years in a row, she has organized winter clothing drives for the entire school so that not a single student was left cold during the winter.
--She has worked actively as a special education team member, heads a social work team for an entire district and works cooperatively with support staff, not only in her school building, but in many other buildings, as well.
--She assists teachers on a daily basis by providing encouragement, helpful tips, and strategies on ways of helping students.
--Ms. Talip develops behavioral implementation plans and revises individualized education plans and 504's so that students’ mental health needs are being met while they are in school.
--Ms. Talip uses active recognition to support students in developing positive self-images. She supports staff in the understanding of restorative justice vs. harsh discipline methods. She also works collaboratively with family members to “WRAP” the student, leading to a strong home-school team connection. Additionally, she purchases various incentives and rewards for students to earn through positive choices and goal-setting.
--Ms. Talip provides opportunities by seeking out community partnerships and resources that benefit students and families. She stock and organizes “Dress for Success” clothing and provides students/families with necessities and resources. For example, she finds rent assistance programs for families, food banks, clothing resources, medical care, etc.
Lastly, Ms. Talip’s principal, Kelly O’Brien, states that she is an integral part of the school community and is often the key puzzle piece needed to better understand, and then support, her school’s most vulnerable students.
Ms. Talip works extremely hard and is a LifeChanger in her community!