Meet the GMS Psychologist, Social Worker, and Prevention Coordinator/Homeless Liaison
This quarter, we’d like to introduce to you our school psychologist, social worker, 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.
Kayla Bimm, MS, SSP, NCSP - 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:
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 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.
Erin Lowry, BSW, MSW - 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!