Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others.” This quote is incredibly accurate for selfless people like Hilary Hellerbach, LCSW-C. Ms. Hellerbach has worked as a social worker for 38 years and for the past 22 years has been working at Battle Monument School – a BCPS separate public day school that meets the needs of students aged 3-21 who have intellectual disabilities and physical and behavioral challenges. As a School Social Worker, Ms. Hellerbach’s role includes providing clinical, social, and emotional support to students, facilitating collaboration with homeschool learners, and connecting students and families with a wide array of resources – all with the goal of helping students to be as available for learning as possible.
The Student Support Network is one of the resources Ms. Hellerbach uses to support students and their families. The Student Support Network began its partnership with Battle Monument School right before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ms. Hellerbach found it to be a major source of support through the challenging times that followed.
Ms. Hellerbach emphasized the difficulties of online, home-based learning during the pandemic closure for some students with special needs. For example, some students with physical challenges need specially-designed weighted chairs to avoid tipping over in their seats as they work. The Network was able to purchase and deliver these chairs to two students at home, creating an environment more conducive to learning. As a result of the unique challenges Battle Monument students faced, the school was one of the first to return to in-person learning as the pandemic environment allowed. During this transitional time, the Student Support Network provided crucial resources such as masks, sanitizer, food, backpacks, and more.
Outside of pandemic-related needs, the Network provides items which meet the very specific needs of students with disabilities. Specially-designed clothing that helps students remain focused on learning, as well as adult diapers and wipes that aren’t covered by insurance, are a few things the Network contributes to relieve financial pressure on families and enhance students’ well-being.
The Student Support Network provides more “typical” items to Battle Monument School too, and Ms. Hellerbach and her colleagues get creative in how they use them! For instance, school faculty currently use food and toiletry items donated by the Network to bolster their vocational training activities. Battle Monument’s students of all grades are learning to bag these items as a grocer would – preparing them for employment in the future and equipping them with meals and personal care items to take home and share with their families now.
We are so grateful for Ms. Hellerbach’s devotion, creativity, and partnership, and for the opportunity to assist the incredible students of Battle Monument School and their families. We salute School Social Workers, who contribute so selflessly to creating a safe and fulfilling environment for all children in Baltimore County Public Schools!