Social Work Alumni Q & A: Barb Long (M.S.W., ’97)

Barb LongWhere are you currently employed?

I am a licensed school social worker currently employed as the school safety coordinator for Poudre School District in Fort Collins, which altogether comprises 50 schools.

What is your focus in the work you do?

The school safety coordinator responds to issues such as target threats of violence, dysregulation student behavior, students at risk of hurting themselves on campus, and students who have inappropriate boundaries through inappropriate sexualized behavior. Assessment of risk and need are conducted, and school safety plans are developed, which includes linking with community resources.

What drew you to the profession of social work?

I was a non-traditional student. While working at a social services agency in Greeley, I took a psychology course to learn how to best help people. After that I looked into family studies at University of Northern Colorado, and eventually transferred to Colorado State University’s School of Social Work on the advice of a mentor.

My first job after getting my B.S.W. was as a caseworker through the Larimer Department of Human Services. I worked at a group home/shelter that later transitioned to a residential treatment facility. While working there I was able to get help to earn my M.S.W. from the ACLU.

Why did you choose Colorado State University for your master’s degree in social work? 

I had such a positive experience through the B.S.W. program, there was no hesitation for me to return to CSU for my master’s.

How did you move into school social work? 

Larimer County Department of Human Services elected to close their residential treatment facility in 2000.  I had the opportunity to explore something different, and got my school social work license. I then worked in Thompson School District in Loveland for 16 years before joining Poudre District.

What Social Work Grand Challenge are you most passionate about?

Violence Prevention, especially gun violence and school violence.

What advice do you have for upcoming graduates?

Connect with what you really want to accomplish. It’s easy to get a job, do it every day, and kind of forget why you are doing it. Evaluate jobs to see if they fit with your core values and what you believe in. Remember the big picture. For me, I know that education can help a person out of poverty. That connection drives my social work values every day. You’re not going to save the world, but you can have a real impact one person at a time, one issue at a time, one cause at a time.

About the School of Social Work

Founded in 1968, Colorado State University’s School of Social Work exists to advance social, environmental, and economic justice; promote equity and equality; alleviate oppression; and enhance human health and well-being across local and global community systems. The School of Social work is part of Colorado State University’s College of Health and Human Sciences.