Minnesota 2015 School Social Worker of the Year
Hertha Lange - Rochester Public Schools
Hertha Lange earned her MSW from the University of Minnesota and is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker with 30 years of experience serving youth and families. Nominator, Lois Kreidermacher wrote "Ms. Lange offers an array of services to the youth and their families in each program (she serves) as well as an “ear” to staff, a collaborator at each site with instructional staff and an innovator for each program creating pathways for extension and collaboration with community organizations". Hertha has served Rochester School District for 5 years, the past 4 years with the Rochester Area Learning Center.
Hertha has a long professional career, which includes working as a Social Worker for Olmsted County Social Services, many years as a School Social Worker for Wasioja Coop. serving students in a Setting IV Emotional/Behavioral Disorder Program, Social Worker for Mayo Clinic at St. Mary’s Campus Trauma and Emergency Center and her current work at Rochester Area Learning Center (RALC). At RALC she works within many programs; middle school RAMS, the ninth grade program Bridge, RALC School to Work program, the Von Wald Shelter for Youth and Olmstead County’s Juvenile Detention Center. Despite colleagues concerned that the workload was too difficult, Hertha was able to develop a schedule to accommodate each portion of her assignment. The initiative she extends has been very respected by her administrators, colleagues and community partners, as evidenced in the plethora of letters to support her nomination for MSSWA School Social Worker of the Year Hertha has her hand on the pulse of mental health issues in her school community. Her work has included increasing awareness of the mental, physical and emotional health of all students. To address identified needs, Hertha has partnered with several community providers and brought programs forward in each of her schools.
Community partnerships Hertha has initiated include:
Hertha is directly involved in every aspect of each of the above programs in addition to being an integral part of the RALC Special Education Team, conducting Functional Behavioral Assessment Parent Interviews, Transition Assessment Parent Interviews, and reporting for Special Education Evaluations. Beyond the community partnerships listed, her community service experience includes serving as the Coordinator of Family Promise through Christ Lutheran Church in Byron, Minnesota. Family Promise is a network
of congregations that provide housing for a week for homeless families in Olmstead County. Hertha schedules the staffing for her congregation’s week, including herself to cover one evening. In a letter of support colleague wrote, "Hertha Lange is an embodiment of loving compassion. She extends herself to her students and families, her colleagues and volunteers. Everyone touched by her feels valued and appreciated.”
Another colleague wrote, “Hertha is an extremely welcoming and warm person that not only puts students and staff at ease, but also others she collaborates with. Hertha is always willing to do what she can for students and takes the extra time to make students and collaborating professionals feel welcomed and part of a team working towards the common good of youth.”
A community partner shared, “It is clear when you are at the ALC that the students not only trust Hertha and look to her for guidance, but also clearly show the individual life skills and self determination they have gained while working with her”.
Lois Kreidermacher summarized her nomination by saying, “She is selfless…she lives and models “giving back” to her community…Everyone is better when working with Ms. Lange~ as a person, professional, student, family member and/or a member of a community beyond the school district”.
Born in Wabasha, MN (1950) to German immigrant parents, Hertha was raised as a “snow bird”, spending spring, summer, and fall on the family farm in Byron, MN and winter spent on Anna Maria Island, FL, where the family ran little fishing cottages for other Midwestern “snow birds”. Hertha has known since she was in 5th grade that he wanted to be a social worker. She has never changed her mind, nor has she ever regretted it. She ultimately found her way to school social worker, which she considered a very good fit. It provides a chance to intervene, advocate, and educate at an earlier stage than most county work, but still allows for a length of time for involvement to develop relationships and an opportunity to see change and growth.
Hertha married an Irishman. They have three children and two grand children. They raised their children on the same farm that Hertha was raised on. She loves gardening and spending time with family and friends and likes to be involved in community.
Hertha was able to retire this year and will be truly missed by her students, families, colleagues and community partners in her role as the RALS School Social Worker!
MSSWA is thrilled to acknowledge Hertha Lange and her dedication to the profession. Her knowledge to support her colleagues, her commitment to students, and advocacy to the families she serves makes her our Minnesota School Social Worker of the year for 2015! Congratulations Hertha!