Meet Our Psychologists, Social Workers, and Prevention Coordinator/Homeless Liaison
This quarter, we’d like to introduce to you our school psychologists, social workers, and prevention coordinator / homeless liaison, and the vital work they do. School social workers and psychologists provide services that strengthen staff, student, and home partnerships. They are professionally trained to address barriers to learning and overall social/emotional well-being and create strategies to help students manage issues such as anger, stress, anxiety, and to foster self-esteem and optimism. Our prevention coordinator/homeless liaison provides social work services to homeless and at-risk youth District-wide, and ensures delivery of mandated services to facilitate homeless students’ attendance and access to appropriate education.
Mary Button, Ed.S., NCSP - GHS/GES School Psychologist
Mary Button has been with the Ball-Chatham School District for six years as a School Psychologist. She previously worked with students receiving services under Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, as well as in the Evans County School District in Claxton, GA; and Richmond Hill School district in Richmond Hill, GA. Mary was also enlisted with the US Army, stationed at Ft. Lewis, Washington, and in Korea. Mary graduated high school from Warrensburg-Latham High School and completed her Bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Kentucky. She later earned her Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology and Master’s degree in School Psychology at the Georgia Southern University in Statesboro Georgia.
While she enjoys working with and encouraging students to learn, she said she often feels there is not enough time in the day to do all that she wishes she could.
Mary has three children: Shelby, Chelsea, and Darcy. On her own time, she enjoys bike riding, piano, and a variety of music genres, hiking, traveling, football, soccer, scuba diving, repelling, and, of course, Yorkshire Terriers and Miniature Long-Haired Dachshunds.
Fun fact: Mary enjoys the great outdoors, and has spent years repelling in the more mountainous areas she has lived. She’ll soon take her adventurous spirit to the ocean, as she is currently learning to scuba dive!
Kayla Bimm, MS, SSP, NCSP - GIS/GMS School Psychologist
Kayla Bimm was hired at Ball-Chatham in June 2016 as a full-time school psychologist. A Jacksonville native, she graduated from Routt Catholic High School in 2009 and went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2013 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She further her study at SIUe, earning her Master’s degree in Clinical Child Psychology in 2015; and her Specialist degree in School Psychology in 2016.
Throughout Kayla’s college career, she held positions at the Illinois Center for Autism, Head Start, St. Louis Special School District, Belleville Area Special Co-op, and Cahokia School District--participating in field and internship experiences as a school psychologist. She also worked for SIUe’s Autism and Behavior Clinic as a graduate assistant, worked as a graduate-level teaching assistant, and worked as a graduate research assistant in a university-led grant working with Madison County Probation to put rehabilitation systems in place for adults recovering from drug abuse. She has also worked for the America Reads program in college, volunteering in schools and libraries within the area and increasing literacy skills in students.
About her position, she says she loves being able to work with teachers and parents to learn about the whole student, to get a good picture of what is going on, what student needs may be, and how she can help to plan supports and services for the student. “I also like to work with building administration and teachers to further set up intervention opportunities to support those students who are not receiving special education,” she says. “Lastly, and most of all, I love being able to work directly with students, building relationships, and becoming a comfortable and safe person for them at school.”
The position does have its challenges though. She believes that school psychologists often wear many ‘hats’ and are asked to assist with many aspects of the school environment. “My biggest challenge is having enough time in the day to meet the needs of all students and staff within my buildings efficiently and to the best of my abilities,” she says.
She’s received many professional accolades over the years, including being recognized as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. While in college, she received the following:
SIUe’s Dean’s Dozen member. and Dean’s List member for all semesters enrolled
The National Society of Leadership and Success member
Psi Chi member, Phi Eta Sigma member, Phi Kappa Phi member-- all associations honoring GPA, academic excellence, and extracurricular involvement
The National Society of Collegiate Scholars member
Academic Chair of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Psychology Club
On her own time, she enjoys shopping, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.
Fun fact: Kayla’s a world traveler - She’s been to France, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany--all in high school as part of an educational tours program. She’s also taken many round-trips across the U.S.-- From Illinois down to the tip of Florida, to New York City, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Texas. Last summer, she went on a round-trip with friends to Zion National Park and Canyonlands, and this summer they are road tripping to the Grand Canyon.
Sabrina Carter, Ed.M., NCSP - CES/BES School Psychologist
Sabrina Carter joined our District in September 2012. In her nine years of employment, she has worked in every one of our schools.
Originally hailing from the Sunshine State, she graduated from Fort Walton Beach High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida in 2005. She then earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida in 2008 - making the Dean’s list each of the four years she attended. Heading north, Sabrina earned her graduate degree from Columbia University Teachers College in New York City in 2012.
About her work, she says she loves working one-to-one with students as it allows her students’ personalities to really shine through and lets her see what they’re capable of. “Being able to have that insight into our students really helps the team develop plans to support them here at school, which helps them grow towards their true potential,” she adds.
The challenge of her work is the time it takes to properly ensure that all federal and state mandates are followed and that all the required paperwork is completed in the designated time allowed. “Of course, the time it takes for these duties takes time away from working directly with students,” she says.
On her own time, she says she’s very into musical theater. “I love going to see shows, and just singing in my office if you ask those who work around me and can hear me sometimes!” She also likes napping and watching Netflix on the weekends as it’s her “me time.”
Fun fact! Sabrina loves any and everything Disney! She has been to Disney World over 40 times and Disneyland at least 10 times. “Actually, maybe more times than those, I’ve lost count honestly!”
Marni Countryman, BA, LCSW- GHS School Social Worker
Prior to joining Ball-Chatham as a School Social Worker in August 1998, Marni Countryman served as a School Social Worker in the Chicago suburb of Berkley, at MacArthur Middle School for four years. She completed her undergraduate work at SIU-Carbondale, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in May of 1988. She went on to complete her post-graduate work at Loyola University in Chicago where she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work in May of 1992.
About her position at Ball-Chatham, she says she feels that her work is creative, challenging, and purposeful. “It’s also exciting and I am never bored!” she says. “ I hope I am making the world a little bit better through my work, even if it is by helping a few people at a time. I love seeing my students grow, mature, and start to become the people they were meant to be.”
Marni is married to Paul, and together they have two sons, Caleb and Keiler Countryman. On her own time, she enjoys traveling, seeing live music, entertaining, hanging out with family and friends, hiking, cooking, and shopping.
Fun fact: Marni is vegetarian, and has been for over 20 years!
Jenna Griffith, BSW, MSW - GES/GIS School Social Worker
Jenna Griffith came to Ball-Chatham as a School Social Worker in March 2019. She previously served as a School Social Worker in the Waverly and Franklin School Districts, and also with Mid-State Special Education Cooperative.
Originally a Dixon, Illinois native, Jenna graduated from Newman Central Catholic High School in Sterling, Illinois, and in 2016, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Western Illinois University. In 2017, she earned her Master’s degree in School Social Work from Aurora University. She has lived in the Springfield/Chatham area since graduating from grad school.
About her position at Ball-Chatham, she says that she enjoys working with students, and finds it always rewarding to see how their growth and progress in their social-emotional learning has a positive impact on their overall education.
Jenna is engaged to be married to Matt - their wedding date is October 23, 2021! Together they have a 2.5-year-old Golden Retriever, Maddux. She says both she and Matt are equally obsessed with their fur baby, Maddux!
On her own time, she enjoys watching sports (Bear Down!), playing tennis, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Fun fact: Jenna met her future husband while at WIU. She had lost her wallet and he was the one who returned it!
Denise Klemm, LCSW, MSW - BES/CES School Social Worker
Denise Klemm was hired by the Ball-Chatham School District in April 2020. She completed her school social work internship at Rochester Elementary School in the 2019-20 school year. Prior to that, she was a Behavioral Health Consultant at Memorial Medical Center, and a counselor at SHG.
Denise is a 2006 Williamsville High School graduate, and a 2010 Illinois College graduate where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She went on to earn her Master’s degree in Social Work from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2012, and in 2020 earned her PEL certification with the School Social Work endorsement from Loyola University. While at Loyola, she received the Dee Yeck Scholarship. Additionally, Denise has earned her LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) certification.
She says she absolutely loves kids and getting to work with them and help them in any way is extremely rewarding to her. “I also enjoy working with and being part of a team within the school system. We all work together to try and help these students be successful,” she says. “I think the only challenge in doing what I do, for me personally, is that I get attached to these kids!” Denise adds.
“The thought of only working with them for a few years and then having them go to another school is hard for me. I want to be with them and support them every step of the way! The other struggle is only seeing them for social work services. I would love to just hang out with them more often than my schedule allows.”
Denise is married to Kevin and is expecting a baby girl in April.
On her own time, she loves spending time with my Aussie mix pup, Charlie. She also enjoys being outside, staying active, being with friends and family, and eating all kinds of food!
Fun fact: Denise was a winner in Wheel of Fortune in December of 2015! She made it to the final bonus puzzle. The title was “Thing,” and the puzzle was, “Basic Qualifications.” Though she didn’t win that round, she did walk away with a trip and cash, which totaled about $16,500!
Erin Lowry, BSW, MSW - GMS/GHS School Social Worker
Erin Lowry has served the Ball-Chatham School District as a School Social Worker since April 29, 2003. She graduated from Barry High School in 1995 and earned her Associate’s degree from Lincoln College in 1997. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 1999, and her Master’s degree in Social Work from St. Louis University in 2002.
About working as a social worker in our schools, she says, “My favorite thing is getting to build relationships with students, families, and staff. I love getting to know students and having the opportunity to support them by helping them learn the social-emotional skills needed to be successful.” Erin continues, “I also love being a part of helping teachers meet the needs of their students. As a social worker, I get to be there for students in crisis and connect families with resources when they are in need. There is no greater feeling than having a career that allows you to leave such a positive impact on so many people.”
As much as she enjoys her work, it’s not without challenges. “One of the biggest challenges in my profession is the lack of mental health services for students and families in our area,” she says.
Erin is married to Frank, and together they have two children: Mady (12) a 7th grader at GMS, and Zak (10) a 5th grader at GIS.
On her own time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, and extended family. “My kids are my pride and joy and I love being their mom. I am constantly on the go taking them to all their activities and being their biggest cheerleader,” she says. She says she also likes hanging out with friends, shopping, and going on vacations.
Fun fact: Erin grew up on a farm in the rural community of Barry, Illinois. Her graduating class had only 20 students in it.
Trish Link, BSW - Prevention Coordinator/Homeless Liaison
Trish Link has served the Ball-Chatham School District since February 20, 1993. Previous to coming to BCSD, she held numerous social service positions working in the field of crisis intervention including teaching parenting classes for those involved in the foster care system. Trish graduated from Southeast High School in 1974 and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from SIU Carbondale in 1978. She is a certified Liaison for McKinney-Vento, which protects the educational rights of children and youth in homeless situations.
About her position, she says her work is engaging, and she loves encouraging parents, grandparents, and guardians in the challenges facing parents and students today. Working with parents to help problem-solve issues that are getting in their way at home or school is one of her favorite parts of the job. “What I like most about my profession can also be the most challenging part,” she says. “Today’s demands on families make it difficult at times to make those connections to help implement change.”
She was married to my husband Dave for 38 years before his passing in 2017. Together they have two sons, Ryan and Tyler, both graduates of Glenwood High School. Ryan went on to earn his Bachelor's degree from UIS, and Tyler from SIUe. She also has three grandchildren: Helena an 8th grader at GMS, and Jaxon a 5th grader at GIS. Her youngest grandchild is Bryson who is 2 years old.
Her favorite pastime besides spending time with her grandkids/family is meeting up with her old high school friends for coffee or a meal. “I also like reading and doing projects around the house.”
Fun fact: Trish admits to watching, and really enjoying, Hallmark movies!