SAINT PAUL – The Minnesota School Social Workers Association (MSSWA) has announced its selection of Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL – Shoreview) as 2020 Legislator of the Year. In bestowing the honor upon her, the group cited Rep. Moller’s commitment to ensuring safe schools, reducing barriers to educational success, and dedication to ensuring all students have the resources to be prepared and successful beyond graduation.
“Throughout Minnesota, our school social workers have a challenging job, but their work is vital toward helping students navigating struggles, overcoming crises, and achieving academically,” Rep. Moller said. “I’m thrilled to receive this award, and I thank MSSWA for the tremendous honor. As students continue to face adversity – particularly regarding their mental health – I remain committed to working alongside our social workers to ensure they, other critical school support professionals, and educators have the resources they need to help young people develop into successful, healthy young people.”
During the 2020 legislative session, Rep. Moller successfully championed legislation to require all licensed teachers to receive training about student mental health. Previously, only teachers in licensure Tiers 3 and 4 – the most experienced teachers – were required to receive mental health training upon renewal of their license. The new law, supported by MSSWA and signed by Governor Walz as part of the 2020 Education Policy Bill, will help teachers effectively understand key warning signs of mental illness, learn suicide prevention best practices, and over the long-term, develop a more in-depth understanding of trauma.
Rep. Moller also introduced a bill to create the position of Director of Comprehensive Mental Health Services within the Minnesota Department of Education. The office would be responsible for sharing high-level mental health guidance and evidence-based resources, tools, and practices with school districts, and to implement a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to suicide prevention.
MSSWA represents over 1,400 school social workers who are highly qualified mental health professionals and practitioners who offer comprehensive approaches that specifically address the emotional, social and academic needs of students. Rep. Moller will receive the award during MSSWA’s Fall Conference and Awards Ceremony, to be held virtually, on October 26.