Minnesota School Social Worker of the Year 2016
Bryana earned her MSW from the University of Minnesota Duluth and is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker working for Walker Hackensack Akeley Elementary School in Walker, MN. Nominator, Jill McGowan wrote, "She exudes passion for her job and will stop what she is doing to help a student, parent, staff member,or community member in need. Bryana excels at building relationships and will lend an ear to anyone who needs to talk". Bryana has served Walker Hackensack Akeley School District for 4 years.
During her tenure at Walker Hackensack Akeley School District, she has been instrumental in launching the district’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) Program. She has been the leader for development and training of the program in her district. Her Superintendent, Dave Endicott, reported she spent endless hours to ensure a successful launch of PBIS. “She didn’t just settle for it being done okay, she worked diligently with our principals and other team members to make this a program of excellence.”
In a school district with 59% free and reduced lunch participation and seeing a need for students to have nutrition needs met outside of school, Bryana researched how to go about implementing a food pantry and clothing closet inside of school to benefit students in need. She sought donations, worked in collaboration with Second Harvest and the Walker Area Food Shelf to get the school’s food pantry and clothing closet up and running. Of her work in developing this program, her Superintendent said, “Leading a team of volunteers, placing orders for food, packing back packs of food, doing the necessary paperwork and distributing food have all fallen into her areas of responsibility. Or more true is she has put herself there because she knows it matters.” Mark McKenna, Store Manager at SuperOne Foods wrote, “The project took off from the beginning and is still successful. Because of her, many kids are able to eat properly outside of school and are receiving Bryana makes strong connections with the students and families in her district. Those who contributed to her nomination for School Social Worker of the Year spoke of her passion to meet student needs and make their school experience successful by reducing the barriers in their path. She takes the initiative and gets students going in the right direction. “Working with students, Bryana shows deep compassion, patience, flexibility and true joy towards them.” “Bryana’s attitude is one of the most steady and positive that I have ever seen. Her patience and continual optimism seems unending! “Kara Widman, Third Grade Teacher.
MSSWA is thrilled to acknowledge Bryana Cook and her dedication to the profession. Her knowledge to support her colleagues, her commitment to students, and advocacy to the families she serves makes her our Minnesota School Social Worker of the year for 2016!