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Historical Moments

  • 1916-Georgia’s first major statewide education initiative where the General Assembly enacted legislation making school attendance compulsory for all children between the ages of eight and fourteen. 


  • 1937- A State Board of Education, to be composed of laypersons rather than professional educators, was established to oversee and coordinate the delivery of education.


  • 1946 (fall)-40 Visiting Teachers (VT’s) assembled at the University of Georgia and organized themselves into district groups.


  • 1947-The first Statewide Visiting Teacher conference was held in Atlanta. The Georgia Association of Visiting Teachers (GAVT) was formed, but membership was limited to Caucasians. GAVT was organized as an affiliate of the Georgia Education Association (now known as the Georgia Association of Educators). The same year the Visiting Teachers Association of Georgia, an affiliate of the Georgia Teacher and Educators Association was organized for African-American Visiting Teachers.


  • 1948-The second annual conference of Visiting Teachers was held in Atlanta with 125 VT’s in attendance. The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) compiled the VT’s data from across the state and found that 5399 referrals were made monthly as well as 1303 students enrolling in school for the first time.


  • 1949-Dr. Collins, State Superintendent in speaking to the Economic Committee, of the tax revision committee, on behalf of GaDOE stated “we believe it is good judgement to spend a few thousand dollars in prevention rather than missions in penal custody, rehabilitation and public assistance” in response to the value of VT’s.


  • 1950-Paul West, Superintendent of Fulton County Schools stated that, “the VT is, in reality, an indispensable liaison between the school and the community and is in a unique position to help both.  As such, she is one of the most important people on the school staff.”  In August, a committee comprised of Dorothy Lester, Katherine Walker, and Elsie Nesbit met with Dr. Collins (GaDOE Superintendent) to express the need for a state DOE consultant for the Visiting Teacher Program.


  • 1953-local systems were given the freedom to choose for the first time whether or not to continue the VT program.  The program was continued with 150 county school systems and 25 independent school systems.


  • 1954-(fall) Florrie Still, Hall County VT, was appointed to the staff of the GaDOE as Coordinator of Visiting Teacher Services.  


  • 1955-There was a total of 144 paid members in the GAVT.   The Visiting Teacher….In Georgia, the first publication to specifically assist VT’s in Georgia was published by the State Board of Education Co-Authored by Elsie Nesbit, Visiting Teacher Lee County Schools, Leesburg, Georgia and Florrie B. Still, Coordinator Georgia Visiting Teacher Service State Department of Education Atlanta, Georgia.


  • 1956-Mary Calhoun, Albany VT, was chosen “Woman of the Year” in Albany and Dougherty County.


  • 1964-African-American and Caucasian VT’s/SSW’s began to interact when UGA permitted both races to join forces for training and certification.


  • 1971-The African-American and Caucasian VT/SSW associations merged into the Georgia Visiting Teacher Association.  This was prompted by the merger of their affiliates, the Georgia Educators Association and Georgia Teacher and Educator Association, into the Georgia Association of Education (GAE).


  • 1978-The Georgia Visiting Teacher Association renames itself the School Social Workers Association of Georgia (SSWAG). This change reflected a new emphasis on Social Work in the school setting.


  • 1983-SSWAG President Randall Smith signs a resolution requesting that Georgia legislators revise the 1945 Compulsory School Attendance Law to make it congruent with existing laws and educational needs of the state.


  • 1984 (summer)-Implementation of School Social Worker of the Year award.


  • 1985-Memorandum of Agreement signed between Georgia Association of Educators and SSWAG.


  • 1986-SSWAG voted to increase membership dues from $15 to $20; position statements were written on Home school, dropouts, and teen pregnancy. There were 187 paid SSWAG members.


  • 1987-Membership count of 156 and President Ronald Reagan signed the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act into law to address the growing homeless population of women and children


  • 1988 (spring/fall)-SSWAG voted to increase membership dues from $20 to $30; there were 131 SSWAG members.  The Georgia Department of Education projects included: creation of a video tape on School Social Workers in Georgia; the development of a SSW Referral/Reporting Form; and finalization of a SSW job description.  SSWAG voted to employ a lobbyist; presentation of the School Social Worker Evaluation Instrument (SSWEI) by Robert Newton at the SSWAG Spring Conference.


  • 1989 (spring)-Dr. Gail Kurtz provides leadership training to the SSWAG Executive Board and a mission statement is born. “The School Social Workers Association of Georgia exists to improve the quality of services to the students so as to enhance their individual and educational potential.”  (fall)-18 representatives from 6 states (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, VA) met at the Knoxville airport Ramada Inn in Alcoa, TN to form the “Southern School Social Work Council”.  The purpose of this new organization was “to promote professional excellence among those who practice School Social Work in order to enhance the quality and delivery of School Social Work services in educational systems”.


  • 1990-HB677 gains approval from the Georgia House and Senate with support from Dewayne Hamilton.


  • 1991-There were 222 certified SSW and 142 Attendance workers employed by the state of Georgia.  Gov. Zell Miller signs the first Georgia proclamation recognizing March 18-22 as School Social Work week.


  • 1992-School Social Workers had a major regulatory victory when the Federal Register published the Department of Education’s revised regulations to Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and NASW was successful in persuading the DOE to withdraw the proposed deletion and maintain the title “social work services in schools”.


  • 1993-SSWAG is officially incorporated and becomes SSWAG, Inc. thanks to the volunteer efforts of Judge Johnny Warren of Dublin, GA.


  • 1994 -SSWAG, Inc. receives tax exempt status. Don Lyons receives the Elsie Nesbit Friendship Award.  1994-Georgia SSW delegates sent to Illinois to discuss formation of School Social Workers Association of America (SSWAA)


  • 1995-SSWAG adopts a new “symbol”.  SSWAG Executive Board votes to hire an Executive Secretary.  American actor, producer and social activist Danny Glover defended School Social Workers in a rebuke to a speech made by a representative of GA’s Department of Education.  New SSWAG logo was voted on by the membership. 


  • 1998-Sandro Blalock (Tift Co. SSW) was appointed by Gov. Zell Miller to be a member of the Children’s Trust Fund commission.  Membership pins distributed for the first time. GAE proposed to lower the SSW to student ratio in their legislative agenda.


  • 1999-SB101 proposed by Senator Madden to increase the number of SSWs for remedial education- it was passed by the Senate and House, but removed from the budget. 


  • 2000 -Governor Roy Barnes lowered the SSW to student ratio from 1:3300 to 1:2475 as part of HB 1187.  Gov. Barnes also signs SSW week proclamation.  SSWAG created website   (no longer the website, included as history.  President William Clinton renamed Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act to McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act to honor both major supporters of the act. 


  • 2003-The account balance was $40,721.28 with 218 SSWAG members.


  • 2005-Redistricting occurred-District 3 and 6 choose to officially separate and District 8 separated into two districts, creating District 11.  Updated Practice manual issued to members


  • 2006-250 SSWAG members


  • 2015-SSWAG Mentor Program chartered under the Presidency of Dr. Chiquetta Thompson, Dr. Jackie Brown-Pinkney appointed as chair


  • 2017-SSWAG logo change under the Presidency of Dr. Terriyln Rivers-Cannon


  • 2018-Governor Nathan Deal appoints Dr. Jackie Brown-Pinkney, a SSW to the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists


  • 2019-National SSWOTY awarded to Georgia SSW Dr. Terriyln Rivers-Cannon


  • 2020-Onset of COVID-19 pandemic-GA School Social Workers pivot and reimagine SSW in the virtual world.  Governor Brian Kemp appoints Dr. Jackie Brown-Pinkney, a SSW to the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists.


  • 2021-GaDOE hires SSW Specialist, Dr. Lindsey Oliver and SSW moves to the Office of Whole Child Supports.  The Impact of Trauma on Students in Foster Care (HB 855) passes.  New website host


  • 2022- Return to in person Spring Conference Jekyll Island, GA and Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) connected with SSWAG for the Spring Conference Jekyll Island, GA under the Presidency of Dr. Katina Cooper.  Website face lift, Procedural Guidelines and Strategic Plan updated, Press Conference at Georgia Capitol, SSWAG: Dare to Dream Scholarship chartered, SSW’s LEAD Program chartered, over 315 members.  Dr. Terriyln Rivers-Cannon, GA SSW elected President SSWAA. 


  • 2023-National SSWOTY awarded to SSWAG President and Georgia SSW Dr. Jackie Brown-Pinkney



Grant, Chris. "Education Reform." New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified Jul 30, 2018.

Georgia. Department of Education (1955). The visiting teacher ... in Georgia : works with the child, school personnel, parents, and community, to help the child. Retrieved from

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