Niles Community Schools is committed to helping every student achieve their very best. Part of that responsibility is taken on by school social workers, who work closely with students to ensure they are utilizing the educational resources available to them. Social workers in Niles have a passion for students and devote their lives to the success of the community’s children.
One specific social worker, Michelle McHale, has demonstrated her passion again and again over the course of her 23 years with the school district. She is currently a social worker for Ring Lardner and Niles High School/Niles New Tech, but throughout her time with Niles, Michelle has also worked at Northside, Howard and Oak Manor.
“I love my job,” said Michelle. “I focus on trying to make a difference every day by supporting students in whatever they may need.”
Michelle took a nontraditional route to becoming a social worker. Originally, she began her career in the business world working in advertising research and marketing. During her time in that field, she found herself unhappy and in search of a career with meaning. With a desire in her heart to make a difference for kids, she decided to return to school for her master’s degree.
“I enjoy working with the kids,” said Michelle. “There are a few different components to my job, including testing and writing reports, but my absolute favorite days are those I get to spend with the kids. It is a great feeling to form a positive relationship with them and allow them a space where they can be truly listened to.”
In her role at Niles, she provides students with behavioral counseling and conducts special education evaluations and is also a member of the district’s crisis response team. Michelle is able to work with children in grades 7 through 12 and is fortunate enough to be able to form relationships with students as well as parents.
“Michelle is a tremendous asset to Niles Community Schools,” said Dr. Dan Applegate, Superintendent of Niles Community Schools. “The individual students and families she touches value her commitment to our schools and students and the important role she plays.”
“I’m excited when my kids graduate,” said Michelle. “In Niles, we go above and beyond in supporting our kids and recognizing needs. I keep photos of my graduates in their cap and gowns on my bulletin board. It’s a pleasure to be a part of such a caring, helpful environment that honestly does everything for the betterment of the students.”