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School Social Worker of the Year

Lara Ruffing, LISW-S

Lara Ruffing has been a school social worker since 1993, and has served as the Mental Health Team Leader in Worthington Schools for 15 years and counting. She is a Level 1 Trauma Informed Certified social worker, and she has been a member of OSSWA for many years. 

Lara earned her MSW at Wayne State in Detroit, MI, and started her school social work career in Dearborn, MI many years ago. Moving back to the Columbus area in 2005 Lara started working for the ESC in 2006.  Over the next few years, Lara increased her service time with the Worthington School district eventually becoming a full-time behavior consultant, supporting all of the schools pre-K thru high school. 

Lara has been integral in bringing more mental health support to the students of Worthington over the years. She currently supervises a team of ten social workers and counselors in the district - a team that she helped advocate for and hire. Additionally, Lara is a full time Mental Health Specialist at Worthingway Middle School. She has been on the district’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Team both at the district level and building level, implementing MTSS with fidelity throughout the district. In particular, Lara excels at focusing on Tier 1 interventions in schools to make each of our buildings better places for all students.

Lara helps evaluate student behaviors, and make plans to support students with behavioral disabilities. She has even earned the honor of being recognized for her work in Margaret Searle’s book Causes & Cures: Getting to the Root of Academic and Behavior Problems. Lara continuously creates and implements teacher and parent training, such as those that focus on executive functions, best practices in supporting our LGBT+ students, and managing student anxiety, to name a few. Lara serves in our district as a Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) trainer, and she also serves as an important member of the district’s Academic Achievement and Professional Learning Committee.

Champion of Children

Senator Nathan Manning

Ohio Senator Nathan Manning, Senate District 13 serving Lorain and Huron Counties, has supported school social work during the past ten years. 

Prior to his election to the senate, Senator Manning served his hometown region as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives. In both positions, Manning has supported meeting the needs of students and families in the state through school social work. Senator Manning’s personal history with education and the work of school social work is related to his mother as well as his wife’s experience as teachers in the area.  

Senator Manning previously worked as an attorney in domestic relations and juvenile justice.  Senator Manning has worked to support restorative practices for students who exhibit chronic and habitual truancy, as well as an advocate to employ more school social workers in our public schools.  

Senator Manning has offered information, advice and support to the Legislative Committee of OSSWA in its efforts to advocate for and expand the role of and funding for school social work in the state of Ohio as well as expand access to behavioral health services for students exhibit suicidal or homicidal crisis but have parents who are disengaged or detached from the importance of crisis services.


School Social Worker of the Year

Coming soon! 

Friend of School Social Work

Dr. John Marschhausen, Ph.D


Dr. Marschhausen was nominated due to the impression he made with the Vimeo message he sent out to his Secondary staff. 

In this video, he stressed the importance of meeting students’ social-emotional needs and helping them with dealing with trauma in their lives, due to the COVID pandemic.  He recognized the importance of students’ mental health issues and gave them permission, or more of  “a directive”, to not get through all the content and curriculum.  In his address, he also encouraged his staff to slow down and definitely recognized the stress and workload anxieties of staff.  Dr. Marschhausen emphasized the “need to take care of our kids and ourselves” and gave staff permission to support each other; “grace to grieve.” 

Champion of Children

Meryl Johnson

Ms. Johnson continues to be an avid student advocate as well as an advocate for school social work services. Her experience teaching in the in Cleveland School District taught her the importance of school social workers in meeting the needs of the whole child.

District 11 - Meryl Johnson

During her years as a teacher, she helped students develop leadership skills by training them in mediation through the Winning Against Violent Environments (WAVE) Program, voter registration, letter writing to newspapers, and speaking at community forums. She also taught her students the importance of advocacy and assisted students in preparing testimony  and transporting Student Council leaders to Columbus to lobby for fair school funding.


School Social Worker of the Year

Faith Gordon, LSW

Faith has served as a School Social Worker for 12 Years; having worked with Cleveland Hts. University Hts. City School District, Warrensville Hts. City Schools and is currently  servicing the staff, students and families at  Bedford  City Schools.  Faith Gordon was also Warrensville’s first and only School Social Worker to date.

Faith has an extensive resume, which includes; but by no means is limited to developing/implementing Intervention and Prevention Risk Forms, developing small groups, providing professional development programs for staff and her fellow School Social Workers.

Faith facilitates a Girls’ Empowerment/Skill Building group, which helps them develop as leaders and provides opportunities for them to mentor younger students.

Faith was instrumental in providing an alternative to suspension proposal, which was accepted by her administrators that has led to the reduction in out of school suspension time for students found under the influence of marijuana. These students agreed to participate in a Drug Education series, which Faith oversaw in partnership with Recovery Resources.

Faith has served on the board of OSSWA and is currently a Regional Representative. Faith has provided continuing education sessions on childhood trauma and is mentoring new hires at Bedford as well as BSW (Bachelor Social Work) students.

Through her sorority, Faith continues to empower and engage her community by providing opportunities for youth.  Faith is preparing for the Youth Symposium on Elevating our Youth Socially, Civically and Physically.

Join us as we acknowledge and congratulate Faith Gordon as the School Social Worker of 2020.

Friend of School Social Work

Michelle Tuite

At first glance, Michelle Tuite’s official position with Tiffin City School is a bit deceiving. Mrs. Tuite is the Director of Educational Programming but as we, all know the title does not describe all of what is required of one of our “friends”.

Michelle is also the district’s Homeless Liaison-ESSA; Foster Care Contact –ESSA; Adjudication Liaison-ESSA; Title 1 Coordinator and Federal Programs Coordinator. 

Since Tiffin has hired two social workers, Michelle has been a huge support and advocate for the initiative in which School Social Workers are working towards. Prior to and even since the hiring of social workers Michelle has walked more than mile in our shoes. She continues to connect with students and families.

It is not uncommon to see Michelle working weekends and summers to assist families who are in need of services. She will often jump in the car and go on home visits with social workers. Michelle sits on many wrap-around team meetings, refers homeless and foster families for social work services; as well as helps advocate for the important work we do.

Michelle was an integral part of getting our Pay It Forward Store up and running. This store offers clothing, shoes and hygiene items to families in need. Michelle was the driving force to incorporate our special needs high school class to help instill job skills, social skills and important life skills.

Michelle is a member of the Family and Children First Council, Seneca County Council on Homeless, and Kiwanis Club. She was recently recognized by the Ohio School Board Association as an awardee for the Northwest Region Humanitarian Award. Michelle is truly a friend to many.

The board of the Ohio School Social Work Association is pleased to recognize Michelle Tuite as the 2020 Friend of School Social Work.


School Social Worker of the Year

Sarah Vashaw, LISW-S

Sarah Vashaw, was born and raised in Stow, MA. She attended Simmons College in Boston where she received a BA in Psychology. Following her undergraduate career Sarah joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and served for a year in Salem, OR at the HOME Youth and Resource Center as a client advocate. After serving for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Sarah was a CPS worker for the State of Oregon for 4 years. She then went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her Masters of Social Work. While there she took necessary classes and field placements for a pupil services credential.

Following graduation from University of California, Berkeley, Sarah moved back to Boston following graduation and met her husband Kirk, who she has been happily married to for the last 14 years, and has three children Allison (13) Lucy (12) and Jackson (7). In 2003, Sarah moved to Bryan, Ohio for his husband’s job. At the time there were no school social workers in Bryan, so Sarah worked for a number of difference agencies, and spent several years in clinical practice at Bryan Medical Group.

In 2013, she was asked to join planning efforts for The Safe Schools Healthy Student SAMHSA grant for Williams County. While apart of the planning efforts the local director of the grant left unexpectedly, and Sarah stepped in to serve as the interim director and completed their county’s needs assessment, logic model and preliminary planning required for the 5 elements of the SSHS grant in Williams County. When a full time director was hired, Sarah was involved in coordinating the ongoing efforts of two elements of the grant including Youth Led Prevention and Early Childhood programming.

In 2017, Sarah was hired at Bryan Elementary as a School Social Worker. She has recently finished 11 years of service on the Board of Trustees for Sarah’s Friends in Bryan, which is an agency that serves victims of crime and domestic violence living in Williams County.

Friend of School Social Work

Kim Schubert

Kim Schubert began her teaching career as a special education teacher in 1992. In 1999 Kim became the Elementary Principal at Shumaker School in the Bellevue City School District. She served in this very rewarding role for ten years until she was named the Superintendent of Bellevue City Schools in 2009. Kim feels a great deal of gratitude to continue to presently serve in this role.

Mrs. Schubert aims to be highly visible at district and community events to support the staff and students in all of their important accomplishments. She serves on many regional and local committees and boards in order to build strong partnerships among local businesses and community stakeholders.

Serving children, families and community members as a public educator is Kim Schubert’s life passion. She is dedicated to providing a quality education to all students and believes that education is the foundation for a successful life, community and country. In the last five years a top priority has become educating the “whole child” by building partnerships with several mental health providers in the community and adding a district social worker to the Bellevue City Schools administration team. These partnerships and the role of the district social worker are making a positive difference in the lives of

children and their families.

Champion of Children

Scott DiMauro

Scott DiMauro, a high school social studies teacher from Worthington, became OEA Vice President in 2013. He chose to become a teacher in order to give students the critical thinking and decision-making skills they need to be successful citizens in our democratic society. It was only natural, then, that he chose to become actively involved in his local union in order to advocate for his students, fellow educators, and a vibrant system of public education.

Prior to becoming a full-time OEA officer, Scott served for nine years as President of Central OEA/NEA, and has experience as president of his local, a member of his local bargaining team, chairperson of Central’s leadership and professional development programs, and political action coordinator. He also led the NEA Legislative Committee for three years.

As vice president, Scott has served as co-chair of the Healthcare and Pension Advocates for STRS and represents OEA’s 125,000 members on a variety of coalition boards and steering committees. He chairs the OEA Legislative Committee and works with OEA’s Government Relations staff to represent educators in the legislature and State Board of Education. This past year, he was proud to help lead efforts of the OEA Commission on Student Success to lay out a comprehensive vision for high quality education for all students and lay the groundwork for positive implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act in Ohio.

As OEA and other labor unions respond to the recent Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision prohibiting the collection of Fair Share Fees, Scott has been actively involved in membership recruitment, retention and engagement work at the state and local level, particularly with aspiring and early career educators. He is a member of the Central Ohio Labor Employment Relations Association (COLERA) Board and its Program Committee.

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OSSWA works to protect and strengthen the profession of School Social Workers through advocacy, building relationships, and offering high-quality professional development.

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