Senior Hannah Ratliff is an A&E Page Editor for the Shawnee Mission East Harbinger. This is her second semester on staff. She enjoys visiting new places, watching action movies and being with her dogs. Read Full »
After graduating from high school in Andover, Kansas, with a graduating class around 130 of the same people she had known since elementary school, Wiseman went to the University of Kansas (KU) to major in human development and family studies. She went on to attend graduate school at KU for social welfare.
After graduate school, Wiseman worked with youth in a group home. For two years, Wiseman did juvenile intake and assessment in these homes, working with young people who stayed in the care facility for varying home issues that brought them to the attention of authorities.
“I would assess kids’ behavior, home life, and offer them referrals for help if there were substance abuse problems or resources for family therapy,” Wiseman said. “I always wanted to work with kids… I think [I decided to become a social worker] while working there.”
After four thousand of hours of work supervision to receive her clinical license, Wiseman worked as a counselor in five group homes at once, dividing her time between around 15 youths. By this time, she was married with children, and though she loved working in the group homes, her hours did not allow her to balance work with family life.
“I would get home late and not see my kids,” Wiseman said. “I’m a mom of two and I think it’s important to practice what you preach and try and create balance between your work life and life at home.”
So when a school job opened up with Crosstrails, a program in Shawnee Mission that works with students that need intensive services outside of the school setting, in the middle of the school year, Wiseman jumped at the chance. She got the job and was happy to have hours that allowed her to spend time with her kids. But after two years, Wiseman looked for a job where she would have more time to work one on one with students. Then a job opened up at East.
“All I knew about East was that my roommate at KU was an East grad, and she was so nice, we got along really well,” Wiseman said. “I knew that it was an academically strong school and a large number of the families of the students here had access to resources.”
Every day, Wiseman meets with students, either because students set up appointments themselves or because parents or teachers ask her to check on specific students, when Wiseman will pull them out of class.
“I appreciate that teens are going through a lot of transitions,” Wiseman said. “I respect the fact that teens deal with more situations than just their own lives. Teens want someone who can be honest and real about the situation.”
When she isn’t meeting with students, Wisemean is in meetings, doing reports on students who are not coming to school, writing Horizons referrals and calls to parents. Wiseman appreciates the worry parents exhibit when she calls about a concern with their student.
“A great thing about these parents is that they’re open to having those [difficult] conversations,” Wiseman said. “They’re very quick to respond.”
But working at East isn’t entirely perfect. Unlike in a group home, students that Wiseman is concerned about have to go home every night, where she can’t make sure that they’re dealing with their issues in a healthy way.
“In group homes, people I was concerned [wanted to do self-harm] could be put on checks, where they would be put in a safe room and someone would come in and make sure everything was OK every 15 minutes,” Wiseman said. “And I can’t do that here. Students go home with their problems… I can’t go home with them to make sure they’re OK. And I feel a strong sense of responsibility to these kids.”
Despite this difficulty, Wiseman sees herself at East well into the future.
“I always say, if this job started at nine in the morning instead of seven forty, it would be the perfect job,” Wiseman said. “I will be in this position for as long as I’m effective here. I owe it to these students to have a person in this position who is passionate about it.”
Wiseman’s passion not only allows her to love coming to work every day, but also to make a difference with the students at East that need her help.
“People allow me to be a part of their stories,” Wiseman said. “The fact that they’ll allow me that is what I appreciate most… I’m always amazed by people’s stories.”