Drew Pledger, who coordinates mental health services for the Wake County school system, has been named the 2017 North Carolina Social Worker of the Year.
The North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers gave Pledger the award for his “commendable social work practice” and involvement with different organizations. Locally, Pledger helps schools in Wake deal with complicated mental health issues, especially during crises.
“He has an unwavering desire to positively impact our world and help those in need. Drew is always the voice of reason,” says Darlene Johnson, director of school social work for Wake County schools, in a written statement.
Pledger coordinates the mental health response for emergencies such as Wake student and staff deaths and weather related events that disrupt student learning. He determines how to communicate with families about follow-up and mental health support.
According to a press release, Pledger has prior experience in foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health but began his career in a group home for a mental health center. He worked in private practice providing psychotherapy for more than 20 years before joining the Wake school system’s social work department five years ago.
Pledger served as chairman of the juvenile justice committee of the Governor’s Crime Committee. His prior awards include the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and Clinical Social Worker of the Year for the North Carolina Society for Clinical Social Work.