Kendra Suddeth Henry
Kendra Suddeth Henry sees the challenges that stress can put on children each day in her job as a school social worker, and she is glad to be there to help.
Henry is a 1996 graduate of Jackson Community College who went on to Spring Arbor University to earn her bachelor’s degree in family life education, and later enrolled at Michigan State University to earn her master’s degree in social work.
She enrolled at JCC after graduating from Jackson High School in 1991, and it took some time for her to find her true calling. She was an accounting major for three years, and attended Western Michigan University for a year before returning to JCC to complete her associate degree. She considered elementary education, but found she wanted to help students more outside the classroom than teach them inside the classroom. She then transferred to Spring Arbor University’s Family Life Education program, knowing that she would continue to earn her master’s degree in social work. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she went to work for Florence Crittenton Services of Jackson from 1998-2004, where she was a Teen Education Advocate, Outreach Counselor, Program Manager and eventually Director of Juvenile Justice Programs.
“I wanted to work with young people and students, but in a different way (than the classroom),” Henry said. After leaving Florence Crittenton, she went to work at Paragon Charter Academy as a school social worker, and currently works with the Jackson County Intermediate School District. She provides social work services in the JCISDs program to students who have significant difficulties regulating their emotions & managing their behavior. She helps students learn social skills, coping skills and personal management skills that are needed to be successful in relationships & society. She also helps families access services in the community and bridge the gap between school, home & community service providers.
Over the years, Henry has noticed the needs of the students increasing as families are trying to make ends meet & in some cases making choices that come with negative consequences. “As families have more stress, it impacts the children; more than we realize. If parents can’t cope, then how can they teach their children how to cope. Many children are lacking the appropriate skills to manage difficult situations which impacts their ability to learn at school,” she said.
Henry is happy with the education she received while at JCC. Her son, Marcus, followed in her footsteps, as she had hoped. After two years of attending JC, Marcus is now working on earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Western Michigan University. “Having the small setting was good for him following high school.”
“I loved JCC. A small group of us from high school transitioned right into JCC. It gave me a small setting that I needed to get me on the right path and give me the structure I needed,” she said. “I definitely recommend for students to go to a small community college before transferring on to a four-year university. It may not be right for everyone, but I think it’s the best choice for many.”