Top Teacher: Ava Holt - Hackett Middle School |

Top Teacher: Ava Holt - Hackett Middle School

Sam Hesler
Updated: February 02, 2022 03:21 PM
Created: February 02, 2022 05:47 AM

ALBANY - Ava Holt doesn't wear a cape, but for the students at Hackett Middle School, in the City of Albany School District, she is truly a hero. 

"She helps a lot of children that need a lot of things, like children who don't get help at home," said Chasity Cooper, a student at Hackett Middle School. 

Ms. Holt is a social worker at the school, and helps students with their emotional and mental health, using things like relaxation techniques and play therapy to get students to open up. 

"We want them to be the best learner they can be, but when you have background noise, trauma, you need that support to get through it," Holt explained. 

She works with a team of behavioral specialists and community agencies to help students be the best they can be. With the pandemic taking a major toll on students, she's working double time. 

"The adjustment alone, if there was no pandemic, moving into middle school is harsh. With the pandemic, we feel like we have a lot of catching up to do," she said. 

For many students, Ms. Holt is the reason they like going to school. 

"I have been with her since sixth grade, she helped me at gathering time, anytime I had a bad day or if I came into school upset," said Aaliyah Bickley, a student at Hackett Middle School. 

"She helps people when they are down, and she's just funny," another student, Tea'Shawn Walker, added.

For Ms. Holt, the work doesn't stop there. 

She's often staying late to plan the school's holiday giving tree, Black History Month celebrations, or a talent show, where everyone can feel comfortable just being themselves. 

"You get students to feel more inclusive and valued. That's always been a goal of mine," Ms. Holt explained. 

For her, being a social worker is not a job, but a calling. 

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