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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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Man of ‘hart’: social worker connects to students

Man of ‘hart’: social worker connects to students

Stepping into this man’s office, there are two things one would notice upon entering. First, there is a couch with plastic toys on the table next to it.

Next, one would notice this man’s eccentricity, from his clogs to his sideburns. Even more striking, however, is his genuine excitement, which would cause one to wonder, “Does this guy work here?” Both his smile and inviting voice immediately put his students at ease, and many find themselves thankful that they wound up in this unique office.

According to social worker David Hartman, he has been at South for five years and he typically describes his job in one of two ways.
“It’s my job to either help kids get better grades or it’s my job to help kids enjoy school more,” Hartman said. “Most kids who aren’t enjoying school aren’t getting good grades.”

Hartman explained that he had a late start getting into social work.

“I knew I wanted to work with kids in some capacity, at that point I didn’t know school social work existed, truthfully,” Hartman said.
Hartman worked for various foundations in Chicago, as well as an organization called Youth Guidance, which was the first organization that put him into a school directly as a social worker, he explained.

Hartman strongly believes that he gains as much from his job as he gives to it, and that that is key in truly loving what one does for a living.

“At the end of the day, I am exhausted from doing what I do […] and I love it,” Hartman said. “I tell people I have the best job in the world and I think I do.”

According to Hartman, working with teenagers is incredible because it is so full of life. He believes that in some respects, teenagers are the centers of their own universe, but that they’re supposed to be at that age.

Hartman considers the work that he does to be extremely rich because of the transitions that teenagers experience in high school.
“What I say to kids is: Who do you want to be when life shows up?” Hartman said. “Kids are uniquely qualified to have a lot of life showing up, but they also have the ability to say, ‘I don’t always want to be that person; I want to be this person.’”

Senior Dakota Rivero believes that Hartman possesses qualities that make him extremely unique in the work he does.

“He’s really approachable about everything,” Rivero said. “He’s just really willing to get to know you as a student and as a human being.”

Hartman expressed that being a father to his two daughters, freshman Emma and eighth grader Rachel, is his favorite and most significant job.

“I love being a dad more than anything in the world,” Hartman said. “There is nothing better in life than being a dad. I truly believe that.”

According to Hartman, both of his daughters tease him frequently for being so goofy, but he believes he shares a strong relationship with both of them.

“I try to be, in all my relationships, real and honest, so I hope that I have really great relationships with both of them,” Hartman said.
When he isn’t in guidance or with his kids, he also co-facilitates Erika’s Lighthouse, and has a private practice outside of school working as a therapist.

“I think my relationship with students outside of school is probably different but I don’t think any less meaningful than my relationship with kids in school,” Hartman said. “I wouldn’t say I like doing one more than the other.”

According to Hartman, he is also involved with GBS football in a very unofficial capacity through his friendship with John Klasen, counselor and coach.

“I just like to hang out on the sidelines because I think it’s fun,” Hartman laughed. “I’m not an official coach; I’m a semi official stat keeper.”

Ultimately, Hartman believes that his social work has certain eye-opening qualities that help him to be both a better father and a better person.

“I see lots and lots of different situations that kids and families are in, and some are the most incredible, resilient stories you’ve ever heard in your life,” Hartman said. “It makes me strive to have more patience and empathy.”

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