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Kentucky’s top school social worker hails from Winburn

 Culbertson's colleagues at Winburn surprised her with a cake. Serena Culbertson of Winburn Middle School is Kentucky’s 2021 School Social Worker of the Year. She will accept the award Sept. 24 at a state conference in Georgetown. Principal Mike Hale, an associate principal, the school psychologist at Winburn, and a guidance counselor she worked with at a previous school nominated Culbertson. According to their submission, “She is professional, considerate, hardworking, ethical, and passionate about her job and helping students.” 

Six of the 11 nominees presented to the Kentucky Association for School Social Work were from Fayette County Public Schools. Along with Culbertson, they included Temicula Allen of Tates Creek High School, Steve Duerson of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Caroline Ford of Northern Elementary, Crystal Johnson of Squires Elementary, and Melinda Marcinek of Breckinridge Elementary. “I am extremely honored and humbled because I know what a wonderful network we have across the state of Kentucky,” Culbertson said after learning of the award. 

Culbertson, who has worked in FCPS since 2006, previously served at Cardinal Valley Elementary, Edythe J. Hayes Middle School, and Crawford Middle School. She also has experience as a guidance specialist and a behavior resource specialist in the district’s Safe Schools Office. A native of Temple, Texas, Culbertson attended middle school and high school in Elizabethtown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Transylvania University and a Master of Social Work from Western Kentucky University. 

“I feel so very thankful to be a school social worker and to have the opportunity to work with students and families. It is so incredible to have a profession where I can spend my career empowering others and advocating for changes,” she said. “It’s such a joy and a challenge to get to collaborate with others to continue to improve systems so that the needs of families and students can be better addressed.” 

Contact: Lori Vogel, KASSW president

(Posted Aug. 12, 2021)