December 10, 2020

Carrie Syversten, a long-standing field instructor at the School of Social Work, was named the 2020 National School Social Worker of the Year by the School Social Work Association of America earlier this year. She currently works at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School in Seattle. 

Field instructors play a critical role in the School’s field education program. Each year, more than 400 field instructors donate their time and expertise as mentors, augmenting what the students learn in the classroom. "Carrie has supervised several students from our School, always provides excellent supervision and is responsive to student needs," says Field Education Associate Director Michelle Bagshaw. "She is also generous with her time, available as a guest speaker at the School, and always willing to serve as a resource for any MSW students."

In 2007, Syversten was hired as one of the first three school social workers in the Seattle public school district. At Robert Eagle Staff, she advocates on behalf of students’ mental health within the school system. Using trauma-informed anti-racist practices, she conducts staff training on de-escalation techniques, provides crisis intervention and mental health counseling, and collaborates with other professionals and community agencies. 

Syversten served as vice president of the Washington Association of School Social Workers for five years, helping to lobby state legislators on behalf of the profession and providing testimony in Olympia. As a result, Washington state included an official definition for the role of school social workers in the bill entitled Improving Students’ Mental Health by Enhancing Nonacademic Professional Services. 

She was also instrumental in forming the Education Staff Associate’s statewide behavioral health coalition of school psychologists, counselors, nurses and social workers. The group champions the work of these professions and provides a roadmap for districts across the state to meet the complex needs of students.  

She also worked in middle schools in the Chicago area and in Kent, Wash.