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Happy retirement: Tammy Green retires from 30-year social worker career

For 30 years, social worker Tammy Green has helped Homewood-Flossmoor High School students work through their major issues with personal attention.

Tammy Green

For 30 years, social worker Tammy Green has helped Homewood-Flossmoor High School students work through their major issues with personal attention.

Green is in her final month of work at H-F taking care of a caseload of about 70 special education students who come to her because they have Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) that outline what services they need – everything from behavioral issues to social-emotional issues or social skills issues.

Green knew she wanted to work with young people and transitioned from correctional work into a school social worker position. While getting a master’s in social work degree as a part-time student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she worked with several agencies such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and the Thornton Township Youth Services Office. 

Her first four years as a school social worker were at Eisenhower High School. She came to H-F in the 1991-92 school year.

“Teenagers will always be teenagers,” Green said, pointing to “all those issues that come along with teenage years – peer relationships and family relationships. But I think what we’re recognizing more now is the mental health needs of our kids. I think that’s been the biggest change through the years: the increase in mental health needs and the school’s been able to recognize it and put programs in place to meet those needs. H-F has been spectacular about addressing those issues.”

Green also applauds H-F for staffing the social worker office with four counselors for general education students and three for special education students. When she started, she was one of just two counselors. The days when special education students were segregated are long past. Green said today H-F’s cross-categorial educational services are offered throughout the day and in both the North and South buildings.

“We have a large special education population, and again the school recognized the fact that we have students with unique needs and require services and have always gone above and beyond making sure that we have the staff to meet those needs,” Green said, adding: “HF has always risen up to meet those demands.”

Federal education guidelines spell out that all students should be given a free and appropriate education. Green’s role is to find the services that can help students achieve the goals in their IEPs. Sometimes that means individual sessions, and sometimes it can mean group meetings and sometimes they can be very specific, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech-language therapy.

At the same time, Green encourages students to take advantage of special programs, like the Just Like You Program that offers students a chance to go to sporting events or dinner for socialization. Or the H-F Peer Communications Group that she co-facilitates each week with speech pathologist Patty Boyd to help students with their social communication skills. 

Providing school services during the pandemic has been challenging, especially for freshmen who she’s never gotten to meet in person. Green said classroom teachers have been good about giving students time away from the class routine to meet with her so she and her students have been keeping their scheduled appointments.

The pandemic also hasn’t given retirees much time to say good-bye to long-time colleagues and friends, but Green said she will remember “a lot of fabulous people, staff and students.” She’s looking forward to retirement offering the opportunity to move off a schedule each day.

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