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Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Baudy

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Jennifer Baudy is the 5th-8th grade social worker at Harriet Tubman Charter School. Jennifer received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and then went on to receive her Master of Social Work from The Ohio State University.

Jennifer started her career in education by working in a head start classroom and was inspired by the center’s social worker. “She seemed to work magic everywhere she went and was always focused on how she could support our students and their families. I was always impressed at the gains our students would make after her interventions and decided that I wanted to be a school social worker. I wanted to commit my work to minimizing the barriers that students encountered and help them be successful at school.”

With over 10 years experience in education, Jennifer still approaches each day as a new adventure. “The needs of our scholars are constantly changing,” she says. “In a single day, I can have individual counseling sessions, connect families to local resources, collaborate with instructional staff to support scholars in the classroom, provide crisis management, develop support plans, teach a socio-emotional curriculum, execute attendance & truancy interventions, and advise the students on our Leadership Council.”

Jennifer’s passion for education is something she developed at a very early age.

“I work in this field because I believe education is the ultimate equalizer. As the daughter of immigrants, education was depicted as a way to a better life, the key to success,” she says. “I understood its value at an early age and witnessed its impact in my life, as well as those around me. I continue to do this work because I want to ensure students have opportunities to learn, grow, and receive all of the benefits of a quality education.”

Carissa Kolakauskas, Tubman’s Director of Student Support, has worked as Jennifer’s supervisor for the past 4 years. In that time, Carissa has seen how valuable Jennifer is to the Tubman community. “For many families in New Orleans, there has existed a long-standing sense of distrust of both public schools and mental health agencies,” she says. “However, Jennifer’s genuine care and concern has allowed her to establish a rapport with both students and their families in a way that creates a sense of trust and partnership. She strives to ensure that students who may come from challenging situations feel accepted, loved, and supported at Tubman and develop the skills that will allow them to be successful in high school and college. It is through these strong relationships that Jennifer is able to empower families and their children to strive for academic success.”

Her ability to build this trust is not only seen by her supervisor, but also by her scholars. “No one knew about some of the things I was going through, but I knew I could talk to Ms. Baudy. She wanted to listen to me and help me work through some of the issues I was facing,” says 8th grader Romaya.

Jennifer believes that a lot of her success with her scholars is due to the fact that professional growth is encouraged among Tubman staff members. “I have had opportunities to participate in, as well as lead, professional development sessions at Tubman and within Crescent City Schools. I’ve been encouraged to expand my knowledge base and pursue continuing education programs outside of Crescent City Schools that are related to my professional interests and Tubman’s mission. The continual input between trainings and supervision meetings has strengthened my skills and challenged me to strive for excellence.”

Carissa has seen Jennifer’s growth impact the entire student support team at Tubman. “In the past four years, Jennifer has grown as a social worker professionally and will soon obtain her LCSW certification. She has also emerged as a leader for the entire team. Her colleagues look to her for professional advice and appreciate her ability to create and manage systems of mental health and attendance interventions.”

Jennifer’s love for the work she is doing and her scholars is obvious when speaking with her. When asked about her favorite memory at Tubman, she is quick to acknowledge her first 8th Grade Farewell Ceremony. “It was a special event filled with love, hope, and pride. The ceremony was the culmination of a year of hard work and the perfect celebration of scholars’ achievements. The evening was filled with smiles, laughter, and tears of joy as scholars were individually recognized, families beamed with pride, and staff members wished the rising freshmen well and reminded them that they would always have a home at Tubman.”