WCS celebrates social worker of the year

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published October 4, 2021

 Warren Consolidated Schools’ Paige Greaves was named the 2021 State School Social Worker of  the Year by the Michigan Association of School Social Workers.

Warren Consolidated Schools’ Paige Greaves was named the 2021 State School Social Worker of the Year by the Michigan Association of School Social Workers.

Photo provided by Warren Consolidated Schools

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WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS — When Paige Greaves first entered college at Eastern Michigan University, she majored in communications.

But after her first class, she knew it was not the career for her.

When her mom reminded her that she was “always fascinated by how people think and what they can do to make their life better,” Greaves then enrolled in the social work program at EMU.

“Once I got into my core classes at Eastern, it definitely clicked,” Greaves said. “This I can do.”

Greaves has been a social worker for 10 years, including the past five years with Warren Consolidated Schools. For all the hard work and dedication she devotes to her students, the Michigan Association of School Social Workers named Greaves the 2021 State School Social Worker of the Year.

“I was speechless. I was in complete shock,” Greaves said when she learned of the accomplishment. “I wasn’t expecting it. I’m still blown away.”

She also wanted to give a shoutout to her fellow staff members, who work together for the benefit of the students.

“I know I’m not alone when I do this,” Greaves said.  

In WCS, Greaves assists special education students at Willow Woods Elementary School and Community High School. She has worked in other buildings as well with both general education and special education students. The social worker of the year also works with parochial students at Regina High School, St. Anne Catholic School and Crown of Life Lutheran Church, all located in Warren. Greaves impacts students who have language delays, learning disabilities or difficulties regulating their emotions.

“Our kids lack social skills and are not sure how to go about making friends or conversations,” Greaves said. “We also have a lot of autistic students and students that might struggle with anxiety, friendships or making good decisions.”

Getting to know the students and figuring out their needs is rewarding for Greaves. Teaching them how to take deep breaths or the importance of taking breaks are among the many methods the students follow when needing to calm down.  

“You have different activities so they build their skills,” Greaves said. “You see students at the start of the year and see how far they have come.”

One student stands out in Greaves’ memory.

“He struggled with good behavior and bad behavior the entire year,” the WCS staff member said. By May, the student was in class when he knew how to ask his teacher for a break, which he learned from Greaves.

The work is not always easy. There are times in which students become aggressive.

Greaves’ co-workers have been congratulating her on her achievement.

“It is definitely well-deserved. She goes above and beyond her duties,” WCS Special Education Supervisor Amanda Abernathy said of Greaves. “She is absolutely fabulous. She is super supportive of all our students and she works really well with her colleagues.”

Greaves knew social work was the right path for her during her master’s internship at the Glen H. Peters School in the Macomb Intermediate School District that serves students with moderate cognitive impairments, severe cognitive impairments, and severe multiple impairments.

“I loved every minute of it,” said Greaves, who interned under Liz Andrzejewski. “I learned so much under her. I liked coming in every day working with staff that were there for the kids.”

Greaves received her undergraduate degree in social work from EMU and her graduate degree in social work from Wayne State University. Before coming to WCS, Greaves worked at a domestic violence shelter as a children’s counselor, at the Children’s Center in Detroit, at Maple Lane Elementary, and at Arts Academy in the Woods.

She is also a field instructor with Wayne State, supervising graduate-level school social work interns, as well as working with the YMCA and a private practice. Earlier this year, Greaves was named the 2021 Macomb County School Social Worker of the Year by the Macomb Intermediate School District.

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