Meet Ms. Michelle Pittman / Social Worker / Arts & Technology Academy
As a social worker, advocate, and educational leader for more than 30 years, Ms. Michelle Pittman has committed her career to educating and supporting students and families. Coming from a family of educators, her mother was a social worker and her father was a high school principal, she quickly found her passion in schools. Pursuing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, she was especially drawn to children and families with limited opportunity. “Kids and families who are struggling, I have a great love for that. It’s my ministry.”
Michelle began as a school social worker in Chicago public schools. After years of social work, she was offered the opportunity to develop her leadership skills as a high school principal. It was after missing the direct interaction with students and families that she returned to social work. Michelle began working at KIPP DC in 2003, only a few years after it’s founding. In the 15 years since joining the team, she has made contributions across multiple grade levels and schools. When asked what about KIPP DC sparked her interest and has kept her here, she shares “KIPP was always my favorite. I was drawn to the greatness that KIPP instilled in the staff and students.”
Since 2015, Michelle has served as a school social worker at Arts & Technology Academy which educates PreK3 to Kindergarten students. One aspect that Michelle loves about ATA is the family environment. ”It feels like an extension of my home. The teachers and staff really care about the students here, they will go the extra mile. We will teach it in 50 different ways.” When asked her favorite thing about her students, she lights up. “There are so many things! The unconditional love that they have for the staff. I like the fact that they come with big hearts and that they are like little sponges.”
Michelle also appreciates the opportunity to work closely with other social workers across KIPP DC. “Once a month we have professional development for the social workers from across all 16 schools. We’ve had different topics throughout the school year, ranging from FBA and Fair Plans to mental health partnerships. Sometimes we have guest speakers that come in to help us fine tune.” Michelle also organized a monthly meeting at the Smilow Campus for social workers at each of the three schools there to connect. During these meetings, social workers share resources and approaches to support families at the campus.
As an integral member of the ATA community, Michelle facilitates community partnerships and helps connect families to important resources. From organizing a dinner for homeless parents at Thanksgiving, bringing in a dental agency to the school twice a year, to a partnership with Show Up Stand Out to improve student attendance. She builds thoughtful relationships with parents and families, even filling in at the front desk because she loves having as many interactions as possible. She says, “we care about the families, we care about the community. We care not just what happens inside the doors, but outside the walls as well.”
Michelle certainly doesn’t just support people within the walls of ATA. As a mother of five, Michelle continues her passion for other’s well-being outside of school. With a child enrolled in the Naval Academy, Michelle noticed that some of his classmates are not able to travel home for Easter. “My house is a home away from home for other midshipmen,” she explains. This really comes to the heart of her passion: giving students, families, and friends the support, tools, and knowledge to succeed.
Her advice for social workers considering joining the KIPP DC team? “You will gain a lot of experience and knowledge here. KIPP DC does it better, I have to say. We really care about our students. It’s difficult to come to a job you don’t like. We don’t feel like that. We love to come to work.”
Interested in exploring school social work positions at KIPP DC? Learn more and apply!