Minnesota School Social Worker of the Year 2014
Cheryl Flugaur-Leavitt has been chosen as the Minnesota School Social Worker in 2014. Cheryl has been a school social worker in Minneapolis Public Schools for the last 14 years and was nominated by Deborah Martel, Title 1 Coordinator.
Cheryl received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Cornell University. She then earned her Master of Social Work and Master of Arts in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota. She is licensed with the Minnesota Board of Social Work as a Licensed Independent Social Worker.
As a school social worker in Minneapolis, Cheryl has worked in five different elementary schools. She has a long history of working with various student populations in special education, facilitating the due process responsibilities, working with student referral teams and supporting
interventions and data collection. She is an active leader in her Professional Leadership Committee and Instructional Leadership Team. In all her work settings, she has been able to use her bilingual skills in Spanish to reach and support families. Her work has included bringing programs forward in each of her schools to address identified needs and then putting measureable, conscientious plans into place. Examples of her efforts include the development and implementation of school-wide behavior management programs, leading an attendance intervention project that became a county wide program and developing a Safe Space for LGBT students, staff and families. The initiative she extends has been very respected by her administrators and colleagues, as evidenced in their letters of support.
Cheryl has provided in-service training on a broad range of topics for her district including homelessness, diversity, trauma, chi
In addition to her work in the Minneapolis Schools, Cheryl has worked previously in several other professional positions, including programs serving low-income families toward self-sufficiency. She has worked as a program supervisor at the Bridge for Runaway Youth, managed a program for respite services serving adoptive families under stress and managed the operations of a crisis nursery where she wrote grants, provided staff training and managed business operations. She has 30 years of experience in social work serving youth and families. Cheryl refers to herself as "Flexible, unflappable, creative problem solver".ld protection, due process and most recently Emotionally Responsive Classrooms for Children Experiencing Trauma, which she also co-presented at Advancing School Mental Health conference.
Her community service experience includes years of dedication to work for the DFL party, a volunteer with the Animal Humane Society, served on Wayzata Schools Community Education Advisory Committee and as a parent athletic volunteer, served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Social Workers and with the American Red Cross as an instructor of CPR and First Aid as well as serving on their Board of Directors.
Ms. Martel writes of Cheryl, "She works for students long after the rest of the staff leaves the building to ensure that students receive what they need in school and at home...She never loses sight of the needs of the students of our school community." A school social work colleague, Brenda Beyer wrote, "Cheryl can take not only her own ideas but also other's ideas and bring staff together to come up with ways to make productive changes. Her own initiative and energy helps to bring others along to make immediate and systematic changes". Cathy Dalnes, lead school social worker in Minneapolis wrote, "Cheryl has been highly valued by her administrators and team members for her knowledge and skills. She is an extremely hard worker and a tireless advocate for our children and families. She is always willing to challenge herself and team members to think deeper and more reflectively about our children and families, being especially sensitive to issues of race and culture".
Former Principal Sharon Engel wrote, "Cheryl brought to our school community her well-honed skills, training and insight, coupled with her compassion, perseverance and dependability. She listened carefully to students, their family members and our staff, initiating action when it was needed and consistently following through. Her professionalism and confidentiality were exemplary, for which I was always grateful". Another principal, Lillie Pang wrote of Cheryl, "She made students feeling connected as a member of the school community by finding ways they could help at school. Being bilingual made Cheryl accessible to many of our Spanish speaking families. Parents would not hesitate to contact school, set up student behavior plans or have IEP meetings knowing they would be conducted in their first language. Cheryl's friendly and respectful manner helped families to build strong bonds with faculty and staff."
Margaret Roueche, District Program Facilitator in Special Education wrote, "Cheryl is conscientious, caring, encouraging, humble and tireless. She brings a wealth of background of experience and a compassionate and positive demeanor. Cheryl is a precious gem to the Minneapolis Public School system." Glennys Ekman said about Cheryl after working with her for six years, "the respect and appreciation I have for her work as a social worker are unequalled by any other in my teaching career", which spanned 49 years. "Just by being the person she is makes her a mentor to staff she works with and brings them to a higher level of performance." Elizabeth Hinz, District Liaison for Homeless and Highly Mobile Students wrote, "From the first interaction I had with Cheryl, she has demonstrated a clear, professional and heart filled approach to school social work. She is the perfect example of how to successfully apply a combination of logic, policies and law, social work principles and great caring to benefit each individual student".
Cheryl has supported many young social workers along their journey as a field supervisor, describing her role as "growing social workers". Eva Solomonson, professor with the University of St. Thomas said in her letter, "Cheryl not only teachers our students the core technical skills and knowledge needed to be an effective school social worker; she also introduces them to professional identity as a school social worker, helps them work through ethical issues of the daily work with students/colleagues/the education system, how to understand and respond to the complex barriers to access and engagement in a school setting."
Cheryl was recognized at the MidWest School Social Work Conference in the fall of 2014. She is shown her with MidWest Council president, Tina Johnson of Kentucky.