Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




school social work, K-12 education, Ontario, critical leadership, transformational leadership


School social workers (SSWs) have been an integral part of Ontario’s K-12 public education system for over one hundred years. Their unique training, skill set, and practice perspectives enables provision of comprehensive services benefitting the whole school community. The social work profession is grounded in a code of ethics committed to the advancement of social justice for all and draws from a rich history of critical theorizing and evidence-based practice to further this goal. These features of the profession ideally position SSWs to serve as leaders and partners in the school mission, particularly at a time when the need for transformative change to support all students is recognized. Yet SSWs frequently remain underutilized resources in schools. This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) addresses the problem of practice (PoP): the underutilization of SSWs as leaders and change partners at Leaders in Learning District School Board (LLDSB). As a former Mental Health Lead and current frontline social worker, union leader, professional practice facilitator, and member of key provincial advisory groups, I explore the organizational context at LLDSB and propose a solution to the PoP; a pilot project to promote role integration of SSWs using implementation science. Transformational and critical leadership perspectives underpin the approach to change. I develop a complementary framework for leading the change; a detailed implementation, monitoring, and evaluation plan supported by Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles; and a plan to communicate the need for change. I conclude by discussing how the change can be institutionalized and sustained beyond the pilot project.