- Dothan City Schools
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Social Worker Sees Higher Calling in Dothan City Schools Job
For Donald Curry, his job as a social worker at Dothan Prep isn’t just a chance to make a difference, it’s also an opportunity to put his faith into action.
“This is my form of ministry, even though it’s not tied to any kind of church,” he said.
For the past year, Curry has been working with Dothan Prep students and their families, providing the help he can give as a therapist and directing them to other resources for their varied needs. Social workers are a new addition to the Dothan City Schools, added after administrators determined that there was an unmet need for mental health services within the system.
It’s a job that involves a lot of paperwork, and it’s also a job that requires a lot of interaction with students facing difficult challenges. Curry currently has a caseload of about 60 students, and that number is growing as he becomes more established within the school system.
“There’s definitely a need here,” he said. “I see a lot of kids with anxiety and issues with mood and depression.”
Curry’s involvement with students usually begins at the recommendation of a guidance counselor. Curry will assess students referred to him and determine what resources they need. For many, it’s individual and group therapy sessions at school. For others, it can be a referral for psychiatric or other services.
Curry, who completed an undergraduate degree at Tougaloo College and a master’s degree in social work from Louisiana State University, has a significant amount of experience in working with at-risk youth. He spent several years working as a home care coordinator, helping to determine if children with behavioral problems would best be served by remaining at home or juvenile justice programs.
In his new role, Curry said he is seeing progress among the students he works with. He said that many are learning new coping skills and strategies to deal with issues they’re facing.
“Trauma can be a lot of different things,” he said. “It can be the loss of a loved one, being in an accident, it just depends.”
Curry also hopes that parents of students in the city school system are coming to view him as an ally.
“When I was growing up, people thought a social worker was someone who was trying to remove the kids from the home or getting in your business,” he said. “That’s not the case.”
For Curry, who grew up wanting to be a minister before discovering his talents were best suited for psychology, small day-to-day victories – seeing students open up in group therapy or making better choices – make his work worthwhile.
“This has always been something that I wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve always been that person who could talk to people when they were at their lowest point without making them feel judged – really hearing what they had to say.”
Click the below video to learn more about Dothan High School Social Worker, Psyche Bess.