PEARCY, Ark. — The Lake Hamilton School District has added social workers to its staff in an effort to ensure sure that students' mental, physical, and emotional needs are taken care of.
Carson Taylor and Holly Sadowski were hired this school year. Both are proud graduates of Lake Hamilton High School.
"To get to come back to the Lake Hamilton community and give back to my school has been very important to me," Sadowski said.
Together, the pair is responsible for the entire school district — focusing on student and family needs.
"We want to make sure that that student has food at home, that they are going to the doctor, that they have electricity at home, that they have running water, and that mom and dad are okay so that they can come to school and focus on the things that they need to do," Sadowski said.
The school district located outside of Hot Springs has about 4,200 students. Superintendent Shawn Higginbotham said serving a rural community comes with unique challenges.
"We felt like they would bridge the gap between the school and the home," Higginbotham said. "Sometimes there's a lack of communication, and they have a level of expertise in their practices to connect families with services. We felt like we needed that for some of our neediest students."
Taylor and Sadowski can make home visits. They also connect families with community aid and services offered on-campus. The Lake Hamilton Parent Center has a clothing closet, food pantry, and other resources.
"Once we have a referral from administration staff, counselor, or teacher, that's when we are able to step in and help the child to make sure that they have all of the simple necessities that many take for granted," Taylor said.
School leaders hope that will translate to improved attendance, graduation rates, and overall success.