Compass Pointing North: Social Worker Danielle Bickal Helping to Foster Student Growth
In September 2023, Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES welcomed a new addition to its team, Compass Social Worker Danielle Bickal. A recent graduate of the University of Buffalo with a master's degree in social work, Bickal found herself quickly integrating into the Compass program, forming strong connections with both program staff and students.
While new to the organization, Bickal is no stranger to the BOCES community. Her journey began during high school when she volunteered in her mother's classroom at TST BOCES. Later she became a classroom aide in the Special Education and Day Treatment programs at TST BOCES, where she dedicated five years of her professional life.
With a strong foundation built during her five years as an aide, Bickal said she enjoys working in the school environment. In her current role as a social worker, she has already noticed a positive difference in the students.
"Just since September, I have been witnessing growth in the students as they are becoming more comfortable opening up me,” she said.
Bickal’s workday can vary and involves many different activities, from classroom engagement to running weekly groups. Her enthusiasm for the role is evident as she navigates the diverse personalities among the students.
"Every day is different," Bickal said. "Some days I go into the classrooms, and on other days, I focus on facilitating group and one-on-one sessions."
Her approach involves incorporating art into sessions and teaching life skills related to mindfulness and emotional regulation.
"I think I would have flourished back in high school if I had had a Compass program. It's truly rewarding to be a part of these students' journeys and provide the support they need," Bickal said.
Students are welcome to stop in her office whenever they need advice on navigating challenges in the classroom or need to talk about life events happening outside of school. Her collaborative approach extends to working closely with teachers, which in turn helps to ensure a comprehensive support system for the students.
Outside of her career, Bickal is reconnecting with hobbies and interests she enjoyed prior to pursuing her master's degree. This includes reading mysteries, spending quality time with her family, and playing video games.