Ladd showcases important role of school social workers at LPS

Allen Ladd’s academic background may not be in structural engineering, but he is helping students at Lincoln Public Schools build bridges to positive futures.
Ladd is using his talent and experience to support many students at Bryan Community Focus Program. He has spent more than a decade in the social work profession, and he has been the site’s school social worker for the past four years. He said it was an honor to help students and families walk on successful academic, social and emotional pathways.
“I love everything about being a school social worker,” Ladd said. “It’s my passion. Having an opportunity to make a difference with kids and their families is really rewarding.”

Ladd and other LPS social workers are being recognized for their efforts during National School Social Work Week. The annual event is taking place March 3-9 across the country.
Bryan Principal Denise Craig said Ladd is a valuable member of the focus program’s team. She said his ability to make strong connections with everyone around him has led to many good outcomes at school.
“He’s awesome,” Craig said. “He contributes to a positive culture here with his work with staff and students. He builds relationships with kids even if he doesn’t work with them on a regular basis, which is really neat. He’s a supportive person for all of us.”
Craig said Ladd’s dedication to his profession has made a profound impact on many people. He has passed on his knowledge about mental health, social trauma and crisis intervention to his co-workers. That has helped Bryan teachers form their own durable bridges with students and families.
“I really appreciate how much of a positive presence he is at school,” Craig said. “He’s provided a lot of good information to people.”

Ladd moved to Lincoln with his family when he was ten years old and went to Elliott Elementary School and Dawes Middle School. He graduated from North Star High School in 2004 before earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Wayne State College. He later secured a master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America.
Ladd came to LPS with a wealth of social work knowledge. He helped families in areas such as foster care, housing services, homelessness outreach, teen parenting and restorative practices prior to joining Bryan’s staff.
Bryan Community Focus Program helps students meet requirements for their LPS high school diploma. Approximately 170 students are currently enrolled in classes. They apply to the focus program each year and take a wide variety of general and elective courses.
Ladd said he wants to take a personalized approach to his job. Some students may be facing economic hardships at home, while others may be needing to work on behavior management skills in the classroom. Family dynamics, health issues and educational needs are all factors Ladd considers during his meetings and conversations.
“It’s important to make sure we have the proper support systems in place for each student,” Ladd said. “That means getting to know the students and the families and coming up with solutions together. That’s a really critical part of the job.”

School social workers like Ladd offer many services to LPS students, teachers, families and community members. They are trained mental health professionals who help people with social, emotional, academic and safety needs.
School social workers support students in a variety of ways. They arrange counseling sessions, provide crisis intervention and help them learn social interaction skills such as conflict resolution. They develop alternative academic programs for students who have had attendance concerns, and they participate in special education assessment meetings.
Ladd provides Bryan teachers with important information that can explain why a student may be acting a certain way in class. He develops in-service training programs, assists teachers with behavior situations and offers direct support to staff.
School social workers like Ladd support families through group and individual counseling sessions. They help families find and access important school and community resources for special needs, mental health and social services. They help strengthen communication ties between families and schools, and they advocate for community programs to help parents and guardians.
School social workers also identify and report child abuse and neglect, consult with district personnel about legal issues and meet with social and mental health agencies.
Ladd said communication skills are imperative for school social workers. He said learning about other people’s stories is one of the primary ingredients in any recipe for success.
“The biggest thing is being that bridge between the community and school,” Ladd said. “When people can talk to each other, then positive things can happen.”

To learn more about LPS Social Workers, visit our website at
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Published: March 4, 2024, Updated: March 7, 2024

Allen Ladd smiles in his office at Bryan Community Focus Program. Ladd is helping many Bryan students through his role as the site's school social worker. He works with students on their academic, social, emotional and safety needs.