Tara Funches smiling

The Virginia Association of School Social Workers (VASSW) named Tara Funches, school social worker at Graham Park Middle School, the 2023 School Social Worker of the Year for the Northern Region of Virginia and School Social Worker of the Year for the state of Virginia.

Funches boasts 22 years of experience with Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) and is currently in her 20th year at Graham Park Middle. Not only does Funches play an active part in the daily lives of her students, but she also prides herself in playing a vital role with school staff, administration, and parents at the school. In addition to her regular job duties as a school social worker, Funches has taken on the title of community outreach coordinator this year, a title which she has embraced and allows her to help build relationships with community organizations, bringing much needed support and resources to the students and families at the school.

"I am honored to represent not only my region and the state of Virginia, but also PWCS with these recognitions. It is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the field of school social work and to bring attention to this invaluable resource within the schools, as well as its connection to linking families and communities," said Funches.

Being selected for each of these prestigious awards is not an easy task as the criteria is demanding and the process is rigorous. Some of the characteristics the VASSW looks for when selecting someone for these awards include someone who goes above and beyond in their position, demonstrates the need of school social workers in education, contributes to their school/district, is innovative/creative, and who shows leadership within the profession. Once someone is nominated for these awards, the VA SSW completes a review process, awarding the nominee with the highest score the School Social Worker of the Year Award for each region. Then each of the six regions presents their candidate to the executive board of the VASSW and the board selects the state recipient.

“I am extremely proud of Mrs. Funches and appreciate her contribution to our school community. This honor is well deserved. Way to ROAR Mrs. Funches!” boasts principal of Graham Park, Yushica Walker.