Honoring Norwin’s social worker


Alanna Neidigh, Editor

In honor of national social workers week  March 4-10 Norwin honored  Mrs. Butler-Pardi for all the work she does within the school and for our students. Thank you for all of your hard work!


Who are you and what is your role in the school?

My name is Rachel Butler-Pardi and I am the school’s social worker and my primary responsibilities here at Norwin are to do individual therapy with students that have IEPs. So these are students that have already been identified as needing additional support here at school to help them be successful in their educational career. But along with that I also help with students that have truancy issues so i assist with making plans to help students get back to school, increasing their attendance and their participation in school so that students can be more successful here at Norwin and then when they are out in the workforce. I also have a lot of other things I have picked up along the way. I have had a big role in providing some additional mental health services to student through a grant that we were able to secure so with that we have been able to provide free and individual family therapy, workshops for parents and students, and we’re working on rolling out the choose love program which is a social and emotional learning program. 


What college do you go to and what made you want to pursue this path?

When I first went to college as an undergraduate my goal was accounting and my plan was to go into the FBI right in my first semester at Slippery Rock that’s where I went for my undergraduate I changed my major to social work. I don’t even remember how I chose social work. I just remember talking to someone about it and thinking ya that’s more along the lines of what I want to do. I got my masters in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and then the masters in social work allowed me to take the test and then I was able to be licensed as a social worker that’s how I got the credentialing for therapy


What have been your thoughts with the school year and COVID?

It has been a hectic year. I think that the biggest thing that has been challenging for all of us is being able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture that we’re all kind of in the same exact boat. It’s really hard for us to plan and just known what I know about mental health and mental wellness for people if you don’t have a whole lot of structure and routine if things feel really chaotic sometimes it’s really hard to be resilient and feel like you have your feet underneath you so that is where I have really been working on several of the teams here at Norwin so we can be able to provide  the supports the different students need and everybody needs something different. Some kids need to have more one on one zooms with their teacher, some kids need therapy, some parents benefitted from the parent workshops we provided. I think looking back one of the things we want to take away from this is the understanding that mental wellness should be critical with what we do with people. I think we need to break down the stigmas, I think we need to normalize seeking assistance from other people and normalize it takes more than ourselves to launch us into more healthy areas of our lives. 


Have you had more students seeking/needing help this year than you have in past years?

We have had more prevalence this year. So we always had issues with school anxiety attendance issues, families being able to support their kids. Thus this year it does seem to be more on the rise and more in the forefront. It’s definitely much much more on the main screen than it has been in the past.


Do you think mental health at the school is more under looked?

Obviously I am a huge proponent of mental wellness and I’ve been here at Norwin for 6 years and i feel like since i came we have made strides in services that we provide to  students so we can increase mental wellness overall this is a journey that the school district needs to go through and I feel like we need to look at it as a marathon not a sprint this is something that is going to be long term and we need to be thoughtful on what we put into place for students, staff, and anybody else in the community that’s affected by the school. I feel like we have very good support out there for students rough now but I also think we have a lot of room to grow. I think we constantly need to be looking at that and seeing  what we’re providing for students and if it’s helping, and what else we might need to look at. 


Do you have any tips for students that are going through something but they don’t feel comfortable seeking help from someone in the school?

I think the biggest tip is not only to the ids that are struggling but the friends that are lending the ear. So maybe you’re not the one who has the problem but maybe your friend does and they’re always talking to you about it. So I think to both of them I want to say seek out the adult help because your always going to have someone that is a helper i think I would if you’re looking for someone here at the school  finding someone you feel comfortable with, maybe that’s a favorite teacher or s teacher that you really enjoy being in their class those are the people you would feel the most comfortable with and then understands that when you speak to them they have processes that help link kids to the appropriate service so understand that when you talk to an adult you don’t want to talk to them with the idea it’s going to be a secret and they are not allowed to tell anybody about it because the whole point in talking to someone is to help find those supports for yourself so trusting that  if you trust someone enough to talk to them about your problems trust that they are going to act in good faith to connect you to the people you need connected to. 


If you could pick any animal to have as a pet what would it be?

So we have a dog and 3 cats at home, we always like to have pets around. If it would be possible my ideal pet would be a monkey. Now realistically monkeys are horrible pets, they see me so cute and interesting but they’re really terrible pets.