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School Social Worker Honored for Dedication to Her Field

Michele Whaley

Michele Whaley, a social worker at Eleanor Skillen 34, has been recognized for her dedication to her field by the Indiana School Social Work Association (INSSWA).

INSSWA is the state association that promotes school social work practice. The organization works to support the student by linking home, school, and community to ensure the needs of the whole child are met.   

Whaley was honored by the organization as the Indiana School Social Worker of the Year during a ceremony Thursday, July 26, at the professional development activities for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) staff at Broad Ripple Middle School.

“Working on behalf of the students, families, educators, and school social workers of Indiana is a privilege,” she said. “Through my work in Indianapolis Public Schools, Noblesville Schools, and with INSSWA, I have learned, grown, succeed, and failed. I am so grateful it has helped to make me the person I am today. I appreciate the love and support of my friends, family, and colleagues in my professional and personal life.

Whaley, who has worked for the district as a school social worker for 12 years, was nominated by several IPS staff for the honor.

“Michele is so deserving of this recognition,” Krista Douglass, Eleanor Skillen School 34 principal said. “She is a true advocate for children and vital support to the Eleanor Skillen community. She goes above and beyond every day to ensure that our students have what they need to succeed at school and in life. We are incredibly lucky that Michele is such an integral part of our Wildcat family.”

Chelsea English, the president-elect of INSSWA and a social worker at Shortridge High School, described Whaley as bold, intelligent, and highly motivated.

“She demonstrates a steadfast dedication to justice for all students and is a fantastic representation of our profession,” English said. “She has changed the lives of many children, families, and colleagues and we are proud to name her the Indiana School Social Worker of the Year.”

Whaley, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in 2004 and a master’s from Indiana University in 2011, is trained in crisis response and school safety, and she has shared her knowledge by providing training to other IPS social workers.

Whaley is also past president of INSSWA and currently president of the Midwest School Social Work Council.