Missy Palino Extended

Gee Brown, News Editor

What aspects of your job are your favourite?: “My favourite aspect of my job would be interacting with the students. I also like the fact that there are a lot of different things to do in the office, so every day is not always the same. I really like the people that I work with and I like the energy here at the high school. It’s a great day to be a Breaker!”
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of this job?: “I multitask a lot throughout the day so sometimes it can be challenging to put together a specific project that requires a lot of concentration. I will focus on the project for a few minutes and then the phone will ring or someone will come into the office to ask questions or drop off paperwork, so I am consistently prioritizing and regrouping.”
You used to work in the teacher’s lounge, what was that like?: “I was the copy clerk for almost two years and working in the teacher’s lounge was fun because I had the chance to interact with the teachers during their prep periods. I worked two hours a day, so I liked the schedule and it was always busy. It was a rewarding job as I felt like I was helping the teachers and students.”
Is there anything many people don’t know about you that you’re especially passionate about?: “Well, I love giving back to the community and I am passionate about living my life with purpose and helping others. I have.been an active Girl Scout leader and volunteer for over twelve years and I am so inspired by the girls I work with – they are the true leaders. The arts are also a big part of my life and I am a big supporter of the plays that we have here on campus, the Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre program, No Square Theater and the Pageant of the Masters as well as student art, like Reflections. I think that it is amazing that the students have so many opportunities to explore their creative side and individuality through our local art, drama, dance and music programs.”
What do you think about the school community?: “I think it is a very small, tight-knit school community due to the fact that we are a smaller district. The parents are active in their student’s education and I think that the students are very open and that they feel comfortable coming into the office to talk to us. I like the fact that the students are diverse and that they all have different interests and activities. I also like the fact that due to our small size the students work together to share and combine those interests at times to create new experiences.”
How long have you been with the school district?: “Three and a half years.”
What did you do before working with LBUSD?: “I was a Senior Social Worker with the County of Orange in the Drug Endangered Children’s Unit and in Foster Care Monitoring and Investigations for several years before taking a seven-year hiatus to be at home with my children. When I returned to work, I was employed part-time in various positions before applying at LBUSD.”
What is most exciting to you in regards to the next several years?: “I am looking forward to assisting my daughter as she begins college in the fall and watching my son grow up and eventually attend LBHS. In the next several years, I am excited about seeing my own children and the students here at LBHS live happy and healthy lives, doing the things that they are passionate about. I would like to see you pursue your writing and to see my daughter enjoying college and working as a technology designer for stage and screen.”
What’s your favourite office tradition?: “I have more than one favourite. I like the holidays. I love it when some of the LBHS musicians come into the office for a holiday mini-concert. It is a very uplifting and special time. I also enjoy when we all dress up in the office for Halloween (superheroes and unicorns) or spirit week. Every month we celebrate all of the office birthdays and it is a bonding experience as we get the chance to eat lunch together. It’s nice to have that opportunity.”
What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked?: “Working at LBHS to maximize learning for every student in a supportive and caring environment is different from my previous job as a senior social worker which entailed more crisis management, intervention and investigation. At LBHS, my interaction with students is different and more positive and I enjoy the different aspects of the learning process and the excitement that comes from watching the students grow and prepare for graduation and life after high school.”
How has the school changed since you joined?: “The school has undergone some physical renovations, they have added some new classes, and I like the fact that they are building on to our CTE program. I think that it is beneficial for the students to have those opportunities to learn about different professions before they go to college and choose a major. In the office, we added Ms Aronson, our Social Emotional Support Specialist, to our team which has been very beneficial for the school and the students, and I am so happy to have her here. Of course, I have to mention the addition of Corporal Ashton this year. Having him on campus as our Special Resources Officer is a huge benefit to everyone, and his knowledge and expertise is invaluable.”
Is there anything that inspired you to want to help people?: “Inspiration comes from many sources. My mom’s solid work ethic. The responsibilities I took on when my parents divorced. I believe that Girl Scouts played a role in helping me to develop and become the person that I am today by providing opportunities to look outside of myself and help others. My constant was Scouting growing up, and  I always wanted to be that constant for somebody else. That person you see every day that you can talk to or the person you can go to and feel safe or comfortable with when needed. Being that constant for another person continues to inspire me every day.”
How did you get into being a social worker?: “I always knew that I wanted to help children in some capacity. I received my BA in psychology from UCI many, many years ago. In college, I worked in a six-bed group home with dependent children, ages 12 – 17 years, on the weekends. After graduation, my friend referred me to Orangewood Children’s Home and I worked my way up from Group Counselor I to Group Counselor II there. I continued to move up in the County of Orange Social Services Agency as a Social Worker I (Welfare to Work), Social Worker II and then a Senior Social Worker in the Drug Endangered Children’s Unit. In this Unit, I would work with the police and hazmat regarding meth lab situations and the effects that chemicals had on the children living in the home. I worked with the children who were removed from these situations with the ultimate goal being reunification of the family if that was in the best interest of the child. It was an interesting job and I met a lot of interesting people. When I had my daughter I accepted a part-time position in Foster Care Monitoring and Investigations before leaving the agency when my son was born.”
Was it ever hard to cope with the things you saw as a social worker?: “To be honest, it was hard to cope at times due to the nature of the job. I was able to deal with the harder issues because I knew that I was helping and ensuring that the best interests of the children on my caseload were being met. On Fridays, I would plan fun activities, a park outing or a walk, with the children in my care as a reminder of why I do this job. I would see a lot of positive things come out of tough situations as children moved forward to safer and more stable living environments. I learned so much about resilience and strength from them. That motivated me and helped me to cope. After I had my own children, it was harder because I was trying to balance my home life with my job life. I worked long hours and had large caseloads, and I wanted to make sure I gave 110% to every child in my care. I ended up going part-time in the Foster Care Monitoring and Investigations Unit after I had my daughter for that reason. I was still able to dedicate myself to the job of helping others but on a smaller scale.”