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Episode 287 - Bridging the Gap Between Education and Social Work: "Plunge Into Buffalo -Trauma-Informed Care in a School Setting: Stephanie Stodolka, LMSW

Monday, November 16, 2020, 10:21:49 AM

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In this episode, our guest Stephanie Stodolka, LMSW discusses her (literally) street-level response to the personal, social and environmental challenges that her school's children and families - and by extension, staff- face to academic success. In order to bridge gaps related to lower socioeconomic levels, immigrant status and racial bias, she will describe how she assessed, advocated for and executed "Plunge Into Buffalo" - a day-long experiential intervention for her school's entire faculty and staff that had them riding public transportation, trying to keep appointments and visiting a range of Buffalo-based human service agencies in person. A year and a half in the making, the project provided a visceral experience of spending a day-in-the-life of students and families. Mrs. Stodolka recounts the consensus building process, how the event unfolded and the outcomes.

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Average Rating: 5stars  great listen!, Sunday, February 21, 2021

By Tommi-Grace M :

What a great listen! This was an awesome example of social work reaching for change in multilayered and meaningful context. This tells of the intervention for charter school staff wherein they spent the day using public transportation and visiting human services agencies in their communities, much like the families of their students. It was a tremendous empathy building experience for all involved and definitely challenged many of the assumptions they had about the lives of their students. I thought Ms. Stodolka was an engaging and interesting speaker and this was a powerful reminder that we must always be creative within our own settings and agencies as we identify opportunities to build empathy and recognize the resilience and strength of our clients.

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Average Rating: 5stars  plunge into buffalo, Monday, February 15, 2021

By Anonymous :

I loved listening to this podcast and hearing Stephanie Stodolka’s speak about the work she has done within the community. I have worked in multiple different schools and often saw that the connection between social work and education was not strong, so I appreciated how she derived the importance of that connection. It is crucial to recognize the importance of looking at the community your school is in with an empathetic lens. The school that Stephanie works in is a part of a lower income community and the intervention she did with her staff was really beneficial for the staff to experience a day in the life of their students on a deep level. I will definitely be keeping that technique in mind when working with students in a school setting.

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Average Rating: 5stars  the importance of creating a relationship between faculty and students, Sunday, February 14, 2021

By Lileian Rizek :

I really love listening to this podcast and listen to Stephanie Stodolka’s work experience and the work she has done for the community. This podcast was super informative and wonderful as you described the connection between social work and education. The most interesting thing discussed during this podcast was the intervention done with the staff in the school. As someone who wants to work as a school social worker, I found the idea of understanding and empathizing with the community your school is in is amazing. The intervention sounded wonderful and helped the faculty in the school understand their students on a deeper level. Stephanie Stodolka was able to understand the needs of the school she worked in and put in amazing work towards the faculty and students in the school. I hope more people can learn from the experience “Plunge into Buffalo” and implement this experience within their own schools and communities. This podcast made me realize how important it is for the faculty of the school to understand and empathize with their students to create success in the school environment.

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Average Rating: 5stars  more schools need to "plunge into buffalo" , Sunday, February 14, 2021

By Teresa Capizzi :

I really enjoyed listening to this podcast! I have the pleasure of interning at the Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School this year. Every day I am inspired by the Social Workers at this school and their commitment to students. I appreciate that this podcast pointed out the fact that not all schools have social workers or understand what social workers really do. To have someone like, Mrs. Stodolka not only sit at the table but be a part of the administration team where decisions are made is incredibly inspiring. More schools need social workers on a macro level to help bridge the gap between education and social work services. I particularly enjoyed the part of the podcast where Mrs. Stodolka discussed first recognizing a need for growth and improvement within the school. Rather than just talking about it, she actually did something about it. “Plunge into Buffalo” gave teachers and staff an inside perspective of students and the context in which they live. This experience not only gave teachers and staff an ecological perspective in a school setting but also applied principles of trauma-informed care. It’s not surprising Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School is a sought-out internship for MSW students, but a place where parents want to educate their children. Hopefully, in the future, more schools can execute their own “Plunge into Buffalo.” 

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Average Rating: 5stars  first hand experiences make a difference, Tuesday, February 09, 2021

By Jennifer LaFratta :

Mrs. Stephanie Stodolka LMSW is one of the most innovative and creative people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with. She has taken an unconventional path in social work, yet she still has the social worker mind and wants to incorporate it into her job as an assistant principal. I really enjoyed how this podcast explained the systems of macro, mezzo, and micro coming together. She let her staff experience how a day in the life of their student might be and what it is like to live it. She had the staff walk in the shoes of the students and families they work with; she didn’t just put on a slideshow. At Buffalo Academy of Science in Buffalo, the population is low-income underprivileged families. The creative way she has brought her staff to experience the lives of their students firsthand is admirable. Having a director at the school that is also involved and wants to hear ideas is fantastic and allows the experiences to be firsthand and not just on PowerPoint. I really liked that she got all the school involved and was able to have everyone participate. I can’t imagine the feeling she had when everyone returned from the building and got to share their experiences. It is knowledge you can’t get by just being told; you have to have this experience firsthand to even have a small understanding of what the Buffalo Academy of Science families goes through.



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Average Rating: 5stars  a creative solution! , Monday, February 08, 2021

By Hannah C :

As an MSW student, I found this podcast to be very energizing. Stephanie’s solution-oriented and innovative approach to bridging the gap between the teachers and students at her school was a great example of the impactful work social workers can have. Social workers put a great deal of emphasis on meeting someone where they are and taking a person-in-environment approach. Stephanie was able to translate some of this to the teachers in her school by creating a simulation of their students’ lives. Teachers are amazing and they spend a considerable amount of time with their students. Understanding what their students’ lives are like when they leave school can only build a stronger connection and lead to a greater impact for both parties. I appreciated Stephanie’s enthusiasm and passion for the work she does. Great podcast!

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Average Rating: 5stars  a change for the future tomorrow, Monday, February 08, 2021

By Anonymous :

It is very odd to see someone without an education background making such a big change and inspire many people inside of a school. Stephanie took a chance on playing a different role as a Social Worker, which may have changed the game forever. Being a Social Worker, is typically just seen as being a “School Social Worker” nowhere near and administrator and that is what makes her and her role in this school unique. “Plunge into Buffalo” is an idea/activity that everyone should experience in any profession but especially with children. This eye opening and engaging day has helped teachers look at the community in a different light and look at their student’s day to day life in a different aspect. Listening to Stephanie was extremely inspiring and heartfelt. It is amazing to see that someone outside of the educational and cultural demographic is trying to make a change and engage others in that change to help improve the quality of life for these students. She has taken her time to understand the gaps and see where the improvements need to be made. In the process of doing all of this, she was able to be trauma informed and remember that some staff may have experienced these things and making sure this was process accessible to all and no one was looked over or forgotten about. (Putting the Social Work to Work!). Plunge to Buffalo started a relationship within the staff that will pour over into their classroom which will pour into the students work and homes. Bridging the Gap between Education and Social Work is the first step to making a change in the community and starting with our future of tomorrow

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Average Rating: 5stars  we all need to "plunge into buffalo"!, Tuesday, February 02, 2021

By Shannon Bogumil :

This was a wonderful podcast to listen to! I have the pleasure of working with Stephanie Stodolka this year at Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School and it has been eye-opening in terms of how far the staff and teachers are willing to go to be able to experience a "day in the life" of their families and students. This experience that Stephanie initiated should truly be implemented into every school district. As she mentioned, there is a need to connect school and social work services. I truly hope this type of training is implemented annually and gives school staff, teachers, administration, etc, a deeper understanding of what the families and students in their community live with in their day to day life. I hope one day I can personally be a part of this trauma-informed experience.

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DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.