MPS social work manager honored

A longtime Minneapolis Public Schools social worker has been honored as the 2018 School Social Worker of the Year by the Minnesota School Social Workers Association.

MPS’ Manager of Social Work Services Cathy Dalnes has been selected for the award, the association announced this month. Dalnes has been a school social worker in the Minneapolis district for 27 years, working at Kenwood Community School and in districtwide positions. She’s been the district’s lead school social worker for the past 10 years.

Dalnes said she was humbled and surprised when she found out she would be receiving the award. “It’s quite an honor to be recognized among such skilled and competent colleagues,” she said.

The association said in a post on its website that an “impressive” list of colleagues offered letters of support for Dalnes’ nomination. The letters spoke of her strong belief and advocacy for the role of School Social Workers in schools.

One letter described Dalnes as a “true leader in the field of advocating for the best social work services for students and families.” Another said she is a “fierce advocate for school social work and constantly educates district leadership about the work we do and how well we do it.”

Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff noted in a letter that Dalnes has worked to recruit and retain social workers of color in the district, adding that she has realigned her work by looking at it through an equity lens.

Dalnes leads a group of 146 school social workers in MPS, providing them with training and support. She also works with principals across the district when hiring school social workers and said that she’s been committed to hiring social workers of color as much as she can.

She will accept the award at a conference next month.

In other district news:

— Five MPS students were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists this month, including two who attend Southwest High School and one who attends Washburn.

Lucas Woychick of Washburn, Isabella Kemling and Mark Pekala of Southwest and Sophia Manolis and Desmond LaFave of South were among the approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide. The students earned the distinction by scoring a top mark on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.