Jessamine County school social worker is first Kentuckian to earn national certification

Gilpin recently earned her National Certified School Social Worker certification. So far, she’s the only person in Kentucky to achieve this and one of 30 in the entire country. 

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This article was originally written by FOX 56.

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. — It’s National Social Work Month, and Jessamine County school leaders are recognizing the hard work of one social worker in their district. 

Lesley Gilpin is one of five school social workers who serve in counseling positions at the Providence School in Jessamine County. 

Gilpin recently earned her National Certified School Social Worker certification. So far, she’s the only person in Kentucky to achieve this and one of 30 in the entire country. 

“This was a challenge to make sure that I’m staying current and using best practices with our students,” said Gilpin. “Not just those things that feel good or might be easy to do with the student, but things that we know are evidence-based and proven to produce results.” 

Growing up in a family of educators, Gilpin said she always knew she wanted to work with children, but she couldn’t shake her passion for social work. 

That’s why she chose her career. Gilpin said that in her line of work, she gets to see her students in a different light. 

“Versus in a clinical setting where I might see them once a week, I’m able to see how they interact in the classroom, in the hallways with their peers, and also in after-school activities and things like that,” said Gilpin. 

Gilpin told FOX 56 she saw the national certification as an opportunity for growth—a way to revamp and improve mental health practices at Providence. This is something the school’s principal, Justin Yeary, is excited to witness. 

“We’re not going to be stuck in doing things the way we’ve always done them because, as things change and kids bring new issues to it, we want to be prepared to handle those and provide the services,” said Yeary. “And so, Ms. Gilpin is just a shining example of doing that and just the growth mindset that we really like here.” 

While very challenging, Gilpin said the social work field is incredibly rewarding. 

“My favorite day of the year is graduation and seeing students who maybe have heard at some point in their lives that they weren’t going to be able to attain that goal and letting them feel that and see that they were capable of doing that and also capable of so many other things,” said Gilpin. 

Gilpin said she’s forever grateful for the mentors who shaped who she is today and hopes her path will inspire others to join this journey of paying it forward to the next generation. 

A Note from the College of Social Work (CoSW) 

CoSW is immensely proud of Lesley Gilpin for her pioneering efforts and significant contributions to the field of social work. Her dedication to applying evidence-based practices enhances the support provided to students and the broader community within the commonwealth. Gilpin’s achievements and commitment to professional growth exemplify the values we hold dear at the College. 

For over 85 years, the College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky has been a leader in education. Our mission is clear: Through rigorous research, excellence in instruction, and steadfast service, the CoSW works to improve the human condition. Always, in all ways.

As the state’s flagship university, our mission is actualized through our deeds. Our faculty are renowned academicians dedicated to fostering the development of high-quality practitioners and researchers. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world.