Position: Social Worker
School: Mitchell-Neilson Primary School
School District: Murfreesboro City Schools
City, State: Murfreesboro, TN
Music that Describes Latoya
Latoya Beard was nominated by her colleague, Robin Newell.
"Our school is a Title 1 school serving approximately 750 low-income students. Ms. Beard plays a vital role in the success of our students as our social worker," said Newell. "There are 13 hotels within our school zone, so we have a huge homeless population; over 50% of the district's homeless students attend our school. Ms. Beard helps those families complete paperwork for McKinney-Vento, a homeless assistance program and federal law that ensures educational stability for homeless children. She also helps them enroll in school."
Ms. Beard not only assists the homeless population, but other students as well. From uniform assistance, to making mental health appointments, to finding a mattress for a family, Ms. Beard is there. She has helped families pay electric bills and find employment. She donates ROVER (local public transportation service) tickets, organizes Christmas help, and pays rent for families in danger of losing their homes.
She has helped families navigate the red tape of DCS and sits with parents during teacher conferences. She has helped families get car seats, formula, and medication. She has helped mothers enroll in parenting classes, and she's helped fathers get parenting plans put in place. Many people help students academically, but Ms. Beard is the one who helps students with all of their other needs. She knows that students can't learn if they are hungry, can't get to school, or are worried about where they will sleep tonight.
"She is our liason between the school and families we serve. Sometimes, those families don't entirely trust that the school is trying to help them, and Latoya bridges that gap for us," said Newell. "And that's just our school. Latoya actually provides services for four other schools! She's truly a LifeChanger for so many families and students. We could not do it without her, and she deserves to be recognized for all the selfless work she does behind the scenes for the children of Mitchell-Neilson and Murfreesboro City Schools."