YES Prep Public Schools
Samantha Ramirez

National School Social Work Week is celebrated during the first full week of March- this year, March 3-9, 2024 – and serves to acknowledge and recognize the impactful work school social workers do to support students, families and their communities. This year’s theme, sponsored by the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA), is “Pearls of Wisdom.”  This year the SSWAA is highlighting the pearls of wisdom that each school social worker brings to their campus and community by sharing a unique area of school social work in an acrostic to spell PEARL (practice history, education, advocacy, resources and leadership).

We asked two of our school social workers to share what led them to their careers and to share their pearls of wisdom.

Crystal Davis, YES Prep North Forest Elementary

Crystal Davis was born in Dallas and raised in Houston, Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences from Stephen F. Austin State University and earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Davis joined YES Prep in 2022 and currently serves as a Student Support Counselor at North Forest Elementary, home of the SPARKS..

What led you to a career in social work?

I was an educator inside the classroom for seven years, and hearing about the many different life events and stressors that my students and families went through while in the classroom motivated me to go into social work. I wanted to help children and families in underserved communities and/or populations feel heard, seen, safe and valued, as well as help them by providing them with tools and resources.

What impact does your role have on students and their families?

The impact my role has on students and families is very important. I get to be an advocate for our students and families to ensure their needs are met and they have the tools and resources they need to succeed within the education system. My role allows me to bridge the gap between home, school and community, promoting students’ overall emotional well-being.

What is your PEARL of wisdom?

P - My practice history is being an educator, interning with anti-human trafficking agencies, homeless shelters, and working as an student support counselor for now going on two years.
E - My education includes receiving a Master of Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington and a bachelor’s degree in health sciences.
A - Advocacy in social work for me is making sure our students and families voices are heard through meeting and working with families and staff members to make sure students' needs are met and supported emotionally and mentally.
R - Sharing resources and tools with families, providing counseling sessions for students and developing community relationships inside and outside the school is an important piece in social work to ensure students and families have everything they need to be able to succeed.
L - Leadership in social work for me looks like demonstrating professionalism, spreading awareness to students and staff, spreading kindness, providing solution focused problem solving and effective collaboration to overall empower and support our students and families.

Ameila Ruiz-Diaz, YES Prep Southeast Elementary

Ameila Ruiz-Diaz was born and raised in New York, New York. She earned her bachelor's degree in sociology and a minor in early childhood education from Lehman College and her Master of Social Work from Fordham University. Ruiz-Diaz joined YES Prep summer 2023 and currently serves as a student support counselor at Southeast Elementary, home of the SPARKS.

What led you to a career in social work?

At 17, I realized there was a major gap within support for adolescents. There were many students in my high school, including myself, who needed that extra support and guidance. When I was growing up, I needed a professional, aside from my parents, to communicate my problems to. There weren't many options at that time. I also enjoyed taking care of others, it was part of my personality to be empathic. In search for my career path, my family informed me that I should look into social work, it would be a career where I could be an advocate for certain populations in need. That is when I began to dive into the social work profession and realized it was for me.

What impact does your role have on students and their families?

My impact on the students and families I serve allows them to feel supported and guarantees opportunities for a better future. As social workers and counselors we can make a difference in someone's life. Whether that is by simply just making their day, because we have given them that one on one attention or by making referrals to services and resources that will positively impact their future. At YES Prep, I have a team that helps me provide the education that these students deserve. Working as a team allows me to collaborate with the teachers to fill in any gaps.

What is your PEARL of wisdom?

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of others is essential to your own.” This quote by Robert A. Heinlein, resonates with me because this is what I do it for. Providing love to families who need it. Knowing that I have helped them in any way makes my life brighten up.


Thank you, Crystal Davis and Ameila Ruiz-Diaz, for the work you do to ensure our students and their families have access to the resources and support needed to be successful.

YES Prep wishes you and all our social workers a happy National School Social Workers Week!

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