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5 Questions for Kim Jones

5 questions for typography
5 Questions for... typography
Kim Jones
Buffalo Teachers Federation

First, congratulations on being named the 2023 Ruth Schwartz School Social Worker of the year. What inspires your work?

Thank you. I was very honored to be recognized.

What inspires me is to know that I’m helping people. I try to create an atmosphere of kindness and hope in my work. I do what I do from my heart.


Your school is close to the site of the 2022 Tops supermaket shooting. How did you help your students cope?

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts is in a majority-Black community about five minutes away from the store. A lot of my students’ family members were either victims or related to victims. I set up a counseling room at school the Monday after the Saturday shooting for my fifth through 12th grade students who needed emotional support. I offered talking, art and play therapy and, for some students, just let them console each other while I facilitated. I followed their lead.

Portrait photograph close-up view of Kim Jones smiling and standing with her hands crossed over each other as she is wearing a black semi-closed buttoned business suit coat blazer, a blue dress shirt underneath, a smartwatch on her left wrist, and has a butterfly shaped decorative badge made up of jewels/diamonds pinned onto the business suit coat blazer within the heart area

What were the students’ reactions to the tragedy?

A big fear at the majority-Black school was why the shooter “hated them” so much. I had to reassure students that not everyone feels that way. I’m one of only a handful of Black staffers at the school, and I really felt the lack of diversity in the days and weeks after the shooting.


Your job often extends to issues beyond the school day. What are some of the ways you support students and their families?

This has been a challenging year. There are so many depressed kids. A lot of families don’t have housing or money so if I can help, I do.

I partner with local businesses and community groups to develop initiatives that broaden my students’ horizons and help their families access vital services at school; more than 60 percent of our students qualify for free lunch. I put together an annual March wellness fair that brings over 60 different vendors to the school to provide information about services such as food stamps, subsidized housing and to speak about health and wellness.


How else do you promote student wellness?

For the last couple of years, I’ve organized an October school carnival that brings to campus therapy goats, a mobile exhibit, an art activity from the Albright Knox Art Gallery and a bounce house, ice cream truck and midway snacks such as kettle corn and cotton candy. The kids love the goats; they sense your spirit and really help the students with emotional anxiety.

We also do a winter coat giveaway, a holiday adopt-a-student program, monthly kindness projects to reduce bullying, and provide to-go bags over school breaks for students experiencing food insecurity. We even source appliances and furniture for families in need.