Social Worker Feature: Shannon Geer, Meachem

     Published on 3/6/17   Tagged under:    District News    Meachem Elementary School   

“What makes you awesome? I want to know what is awesome about you!”
Meachem Social Worker Shannon Geer asks this question of her students each day, in a genuine effort to help give them a confidence boost.
“Kids have a hard time recognizing that about themselves,” Ms. Geer explained. “My intention is to provide evidence to the children of their strengths and teach them the skills that they need to realize their own incredible greatness so they can recognize that in others. We need to energize each other and stay in a positive place. I empower our kids every day to find their own greatness; to recognize their own greatness. Many students don’t believe or understand how awesome they are… and every one of them is awesome in their own way. I want to highlight that for them every minute I possibly can.”
Now in her 20th year as Meachem’s social worker, Ms. Geer has other ways of helping students stay positive, too. Ms. Geer’s favorite time of day is greeting the students in the morning as they come into school.  Simple things, like knowing each one of their names helps to build relationships.  And she shows them the power of positive relationships.
“I’m someone who wants face to face interaction with students and teachers,” Ms. Geer said. “I’m not in my office at all, unless it’s to meet someone or take a phone call! I believe that being in classrooms supporting teachers and students is the best way that I can be helpful.”
Throughout the school, Ms. Geer helps facilitate peace circles in an effort to build skills in the classroom and model for teachers what works.  Peace circles give the students a voice in order to help strengthen classroom community in a safe environment. 
“Some of our students who are struggling the most…” Ms. Geer started. “It’s important to create moments of them being successful, and acknowledging that success and building on it. In the moment of crisis, I am able to de-escalate the child by focusing on what they are doing in the moment that I can appreciate instead of focusing on their negative behavior. As adults, we want to end the disruptive behavior so we mistakenly energize what’s not going well instead of noticing the students that are following directions, showing effort and self-control. I will never let even the smallest success go unnoticed.”
This constant effort to see the good in her students – and help them see it as well – has led to some longstanding relationships with former students. Ms. Geer described one former student, now in her mid- to late-20s with two children of her own, who called her one day. She had just earned her GED and requested that Ms. Geer accompany her to the ceremony.
“There are many stories like that,” Ms. Geer recalled. “I’m inspired everyday by the students at Meachem. When I stop to reflect on what really does work to help promote positive change in the students, time and time again I realize it is the power of relationships.”
The days are not always easy, though, so Ms. Geer has found a way to help keep herself centered and positive, just as she encourages her students to be. Each day as she drives home, she thinks about what made that particular day special… what difference she made that day.
“Some days are really tough,” she noted. “But every day, I’m able to think of something positive and uplifting about the day. I’m able to recall the support I put in place for this student or family; the smile I helped put on the face of a sad kid; the support I offered to a teacher with an intervention they hadn’t thought about. Building relationships with the students and their families and being able to, even in the smallest regard, have a positive impact in their lives is the reason that I’ve stayed here all these years.”
Ms. Geer is quick to point out that for the positive influence she has on Meachem students, they have impacted her equally as much.
“The kids at Meachem have helped me to recognize my own strengths,” she said. “I believe that the students at Meachem are not only resilient, courageous, and persistent but also kind, sensitive and hopeful. I want all Meachem students to be proud to let their greatness shine. Students may see me as a support to them, but it’s sincerely a privilege to work with them.”
Thank you, Ms. Geer, for all you do!