Born in Sioux City, Iowa, social worker Jennifer Breneisen has always loved to help others. A graduate of Drake University and Boston College, Breneisen enjoys problem solving and brainstorming with people of all ages. Outside of her job, she likes to hike, swim, cook and travel.
What made you decide to become a social worker?
I feel like in some ways I have been a social worker almost my whole life. When I started working after college, I was trying to decide if I wanted to be a teacher or a social worker. I found that I really love that sort of one-to-one small group interaction with people, so I chose social work.
Why did you choose to work at Brookline High School?
I have worked at a couple of different high schools, and I really wanted to work at a place where students had a lot of freedom and responsibility and really worked in collaboration with the faculty. I think that speaks a lot to the high school, and that’s one of the things I really love about being here.
Can you tell me about a memorable interaction you have had with a student?
Being a social worker, I get to interact one-on-one in a pretty deep way with a lot of students. I actually had a student contact me a couple years after he graduated high school to say thank you and to share what had happened for him. He was pursuing the career that he had always envisioned but had been afraid to go for. He said that having a team of people, including me, really believe in him through high school helped him feel like he could take a risk and try something he wasn’t sure was achievable.
What advice do you have for high school students who want to have someone to talk to but are afraid to reach out?
Find someone that you feel comfortable with and give it a try. If you’re feeling like you could use some support, the team here at the high school is so interested in being supportive and collaborative and making that type of support work for the students. Try not to think about all the ideas you have about what support looks like and come in and ask for what you really need because it can be customized and individualized to what students need.