Human Services and Education Cluster Career Day
Thursday, October 8, 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some things you do on a day-to-day basis in your jobs?
The types of things service professionals do on a day-to-day basis in their jobs really depends on the type of job one holds. Some individuals spend most of their time processing paperwork in the form of documenting cases, writing reports, or providing information about clients or situations to other agencies. Others are in jobs that are primarily meetings or one-on-one or group sessions with clients. On occasion, professionals might appear in court to provide testimony or in the support of clients or others in need. Sometimes professionals visit homes to do family or individual assessments.
Is Behavioral Science a good major to go in before law?
Behavioral Science is a good major for any professional occupation for which one needs to understand and interpret human behavior or human relationships.
How hard or easy is it to find a job in social work after graduation?
Jobs are often tied to the geographic region in which people reside. Currently there is a need for additional social workers, but there may be a difference in the number of agencies available to provide social services in rural areas versus urban areas. There are many good sources that provide actual numbers. Department of Labor presents the following:
- Social Service Assistants (Family Support Worker, Home-based Assistant, Social Work Associate, Caseworker, Social Services Assistant, Community Coordinator, Outreach Specialist)—high school to AA degree; job outlooks from 2016-2026 at 17% growth (“much faster than average”) and the median pay $27, 380 in NE & $33,750 in the US.
- Child, Family & School Social Workers (Foster Care Social Worker, Child Protective Services Social Worker, Youth Services Specialist, Family Service Worker, Case Worker, School Social Worker, Family Resource Coordinator, Case Manager, Family Protection Specialist, Adoption Social Worker)—Bachelor’s degree; job outlooks 2016-2016 at 15% growth (must faster than average) and the median pay is 38, 420 in NE and 46,270 in the US.
- Social Service Managers (Vocational Rehabilitation Administrator, Adoption Services Manager, Transitional Care Director, Social Services Director, Psychiatric Social Worker Supervisor, Community Services Director, Community Services Block Grant//Outreach Social Worker, Clinical Services Director, Children’s Service Supervisor, Child Welfare Services Director) –Bachelor’s degree; job outlooks from 2016-2026 16% growth (much faster than average) and median pay is $61, 840 in NE and $65,320 in the US.
- Mental Health & Substance Abuse Social Workers (Mental Health Therapist, Clinical Social Worker, Social Worker, Case Manager, Substance Abuse Counselor, Clinician)—generally a Master’s degree; job outlooks from 2016-2026 at 17% growth (“much faster than average”) and the median pay $$36, 740 in Nebraska and $44,840 in the US.
- Healthcare Social Workers (Clinical Social Worker, Dialysis Social Worker, Hospice Social Worker, Social Work Case Manager, Nephrology Social Worker, Director of Social Work, Renal Social Worker, Medical Social Worker, Social Worker, Oncology Social Worker)—Master’s degree; job outlooks from 2016-2026 at 15% growth (must faster than average) and the median pay is 47, 130 in NE and 56,200 in the US.
- Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary (includes both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research)—Doctoral or professional degree; job outlooks from 2016-2026 at 6% (much faster than average) and the median pay is 58.560 in NE and 68, 300 in the US.
For human services the following was found:
- Social and Human Service Assistants – Nebraska growth: +17% National growth: +13%
- Community and Social Service Specialists – Nebraska growth: +9% National growth: +8%
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors – Nebraska growth: +23% National growth: +23%
- Social and Community Service Managers – Nebraska growth: +16% National growth: +13%
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers – Nebraska growth: 17% National growth: 18%
- Community Health Worker growth is also expected to be high: Nebraska growth: +20% National growth: +13%.
Will behavioral science be beneficial if I am going into secondary education?
Behavioral science courses are often requirements in secondary education programs of study, especially in relation to teaching and learning. They are helpful in understanding and interpreting human behavior and human relationships across developmental stages.
How often are you called to court to testify? How much do the attorneys prep you for direct and cross examination?
Testifying in court is never a particularly pleasant experience, and efforts are usually made to keep it to a minimum if possible. Most often human service professionals are there to provide reports or as support to those in need. Attorneys or law enforcement personnel do not provide any prep for responses.
Is human services tied to psychology in any way?
Psychology provides a foundation for human services.
What degrees do you need to be a social worker?
A minimum bachelor of Social Work is desired but a bachelor’s in Psychology is also acceptable. An associate degree in behavioral science, psychology, or sociology is enough to begin at a Case Aide position.
Do you work with attorneys?
Most work with attorneys is based upon parental/guardianship issues or employment.
We work with all attorneys involved in the case but especially with the guardian ad litem, an attorney appointed to look out for the best interest of the child.
What is the hardest part about your job?
Losing kids. You never get over seeing someone die.
The hardest part is seeing and knowing what bad things children go through. Most of the public do not know a lot of what goes on. When we are assigned a case, we get a lot of detail.
What is your favorite part about working in human services?
Knowing you made a difference.
Helping people reach their potential.
My favorite part is seeing children reunited with their birth parents or adopted. Children need to have permanency and that means being in their forever home.
What is your favorite topic in psychology?
This varied a lot by individuals. Some individuals noted developmental psychology and social psychology. Another favorite topic is how trauma affects children’s brains.
What are some things you deal with on a day-to-day basis?
Lots of paperwork. We also meet with clients and arrange support services.
Being the Executive Director I do not work directly with the children and families. I do attend court with my volunteers, am there for them when they want to talk about their case and read all the paperwork associated with the case. I also recruit, train, and supervise the volunteers plus other duties.
What are some highs and lows to the job that you have?
The main high is seeing the child’s(ren’s) case closed and they are with their forever family, whether birth family or adopted. Again, a low would be knowing what children go through. Another low is when a case has been closed and everything is going well, and it is reopened because parents have gone back to their old ways which is harmful to the children.
Do you need to take a psychology class when going into Human Services?
Psychology is an important and beneficial class for Human Services and for most fields as it helps to better understanding of human function and interaction.
How often do you get called to testify in court? When you are called to testify, how much prep do you and the attorneys do to get ready?
Most of the time, if documentation is thorough enough, people are not called to testify. Attorneys provide no prep before testifying, which is why the thoroughness of documentation is so important. There are some positive times that we get to be in court though, such as for adoption hearings when we get to participate in formal adoptions.
Do you ever feel the pain of the children or people you work with?
Yes. We work closely with our clients so it’s hard to stay fully detached.
I do feel some of the pain children go through. It is hard to see children suffer. At times I feel bad for the parents, especially when rights are relinquished or terminated. But the parents have made their own choice on whether to turn their lives around or not. There is a lot of help available for both children and parents.
How do you feel once you know you have helped a person or child with their unique situations? And how do you know you’ve helped?
It’s a really good feeling to know you have made a difference in someone’s life.
Sometimes you know by what’s going on in the person’s life; sometimes it’s the resolve of a crisis situation.
Occasionally, you find out by the person telling you that you made a difference.
It feels great when things are going well with a case and it is eventually closed with the children in their forever home. This is also how I know we have helped.
Do you ever truly get over the bad stuff? Does it continue to bother you?
There are some things you can never forget and will be bothersome for a long time. We need to be careful to not let it consume our lives.
Do you get cases where you feel like there’s no progress being made?
Sometimes. Not all cases have the potential for favorable resolution.
Yes. Sometimes at the beginning of the case parents are working to turn their lives around but later decide they want to live their old lifestyle, which is harmful to the children. There are a few cases where it seems there is little or no progress from the beginning.
Can I go to Northeast for Human Services and transfer to become a Social Worker?
Yes. The attainment of an AA degree at Northeast assists with an easy transfer to many four year institutions with Social Work programs.
What do you deal with on a day to day basis?
Chief Miller: Every day is different, and I’ll provide a response relating to patrol, not as my position as Chief. Officers enforce traffic laws, investigate traffic accidents, investigate crimes, settle disputes, serve arrest warrants, monitor and report traffic hazards to appropriate divisions, testify in court, participate in regular training, assist citizens with a variety of needs, conduct community service programs.
Does Lincoln work the same way as Omaha?
Chief Miller: I believe Lincoln is similar to Omaha as far as specialization, but not to the extent of Omaha. I’d encourage you to contact them directly to get the details of their organization.
Is your job hard mentally?
Chief Miller: Often, yes. Officers need to stay vigilant as they do their jobs. You need to treat everyone with respect, yet watch your back for dangers without appearing overly vigilant. At times, we see the worst of society, and see bad things that can wear on you. Having said that, I feel it is the greatest career out there as I can help people through their struggles every day.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Chief Miller: Being a problem solver. Working with people who are having a crisis, and helping develop a resolution. Not every problem can be resolved, but imagine how crazy things would be if we were not there to help people through their difficult times.
Melissa Jantz is the preschool principal for the Norfolk Public Schools. Previously she served as a preschool director/coordinator, an early childhood education teacher and home visitor, and taught both second grade and kindergarten. Ms. Jantz has a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and early childhood unified education and a Master of Arts degrees in curriculum and instruction and school administration.
Haley Nagamatsu NENCAP (Northeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership) Head Start Program, is the Area Manager for the Partnership site at Little Panthers Preschool in Norfolk. She also taught English for seventh, eighth, and ninth grades in California several years ago. Ms. Nagamatsu has a Bachelor of Science degree in English Education and Spanish Education and earned a TESOL certificate for teaching English to speakers of other languages. She is currently taking classes toward a master’s degree.
Kary Pfeil NENCAP (Northeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership) Head Start Program, is the Area Manager for the Partnership site at Little Panthers Preschool in Norfolk. She also taught English for seventh, eighth, and ninth grades in California several years ago. Ms. Nagamatsu has a Bachelor of Science degree in English Education and Spanish Education and earned a TESOL certificate for teaching English to speakers of other languages. She is currently taking classes toward a master’s degree.
Lisa Guenther has been in education for 41 years. She has her bachelor's degree from Wayne State College and her master's degree from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. Both degrees are in Elementary Education and Special Education. Lisa taught for the Norfolk Public School System for 35 years, including first grade, 5th and 6th grade language arts, Title 1 Reading, and Reading Recovery. She was then the Director of Reading for Norfolk Catholic Elementary. Lisa is currently the Early Childhood Education Instructor for Northeast Community College.
Rosalyn Cotton is Chairman of the Nebraska Board of Parole. Ms. Cotton earned her Master of Science degree in urban studies and criminal justice from the University of Nebraska in Omaha. She proceeded to then provide the state with 30 years of service in corrections, retaining positions ranging from corrections corporal to senior parole officer.
Danielle Christman received an Associates of Arts degree from Northeast Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State College. While earning her bachelor’s degree, she worked as a RISE Program Specialist for the District Seven Probation Office in Norfolk. RISE is a program offered through AmeriCorps, focused on improving school engagement for youth on Probation. Ms. Christman was then hired as a Nebraska State Probation Officer for the District Seven Probation Office. She completed Predisposition Investigations for the courts and supervised youth with low-moderate risk to reoffend. She was later hired as a Specialized Probation Officer, working with moderate-high risk youth. Ms. Christman has been employed with Nebraska State Probation for four years and is certified in Mental Health First Aid, Moral Reconation Therapy, Aggression Replacement Training, Real Colors, Motivational Interviewing and PPCT.
Colleen Barnes has taught Criminal Justice and Sociology at Northeast Community College for 16 years. She brings years of work experience ranging from drug/alcohol counseling, family services, and probation into the classroom. She holds a Master of Science in Education and is currently serving on the Nebraska State Juvenile Service Committee.
Paul Muncy holds both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from California State University, Stanislaus. He began his teaching career as a marching band and drumline instructor in 1996 and has been a college instructor since 2011. Paul has been with Northeast Community College since 2017 and teaches world history and geography.
Pam Saalfeld has been at Northeast Community College since 1997. She has taught English, theatre, and journalism; she was associate dean of the Humanities Division; and now she is Director of the Center for Global Engagement. Ms. Saalfeld has led student groups abroad on numerous international experiences and has helped Northeast develop partnerships with international schools in Denmark and England, which allow for faculty and student exchange opportunities. She has a Master of Arts in Education degree from Wayne State College.
Gary Timm teaches American History I and II, Introduction to American Government, International Relations and the History of Civil Rights for Northeast Community College. Mr. Timm has been associated with Northeast for the last 25 years. He is currently in his 44th year in education. He earned his Associates Degree form Northeast, his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education from Wayne State College and an Administration Certificate from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Mary O'Boyle has been a faculty member at Northeast for 23 years. She coordinates the Education program and advises elementary education majors. She teaches Introduction to Education, Professional Practicum, Psychology of Learning, Child and Adolescent Psychology, Issues of Unity and Diversity, French I and French II. Mary is also am the advisor for the Northeast Community College SEA (Student Education association). Prior to working at Northeast, Mary worked for 7 years as the Director of TRIO/Disability Services at Wayne State College, and prior to WSC, she was a Junior High/High School teacher of French, Gaelige (Irish) and Religion in the Creggan, Derry, and Donegal, Ireland.
Megan Gerteisen is employed by the University of Nebraska at Omaha as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of New Student & Family Programs. She helps to facilitate campus visits for undergraduate students as well as orientation for all new and returning incoming undergraduate students. She is currently completing an Advanced Social Work Practicum at Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Hematology/Oncology under the supervision of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her first social work practicum was done at the Olson Center for Women's Health through Nebraska Medicine. Ms. Gerteisen served as an Advisory Board Member for Camp Kesem at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for 4 years. Before entering graduate school, she worked as a Family Resource Partner (Foster Care Specialist) for 3 years. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and will soon finish a dual master's degree in social work and public administration in December.
Ruth Matthews-Mott is the Executive Director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of Northeast Nebraska. She completed an associate degree from Northeast Community College.
Felicia Rath serves as the Campus Advocate for Bright Horizons, an organization that is dedicated to the elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault through empowerment, education, social action, and support services. Part of Ms. Rath’s duties are focused on providing services to students and faculty at Northeast Community College. She has completed her associate of arts degree in Behavioral Science.
Ian Todd is an emergency community support case manager for Liberty Centre Services Inc. He has an associate of arts degree in Behavioral Sciences, a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology, is a Medication Aide, and has 15 years of providing outpatient mental health and substance abuse community support case management services.
Kathleen Donnelly has taught in higher education for 27 years. She has an Associate of Arts degree in education and psychology, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, Business, and Psychology, and a Master of Science degree in Psychology and Sociology.
Ricci Benson is the Director of Youth and Family Services at Behavioral Health Specialists, Inc., in Norfolk, Nebraska. Ms. Benson earned an associate of arts degree from Northeast Community College in elementary education and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice-Corrections from Wayne State College.
LaRhonda Flowers is a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is the owner of Restore Rebuild Reconnect Counseling Center, LLC. Ms. Flowers earned a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace University.
Adrianne Poppe is the associate director of recruitment and engagement at CEDARS, an organization that helps children achieve safety, stability, and enduring family relationships. She has spent her entire career at CEDARS, and previous positions include Recruitment and Engagement Manager, Foster Care Recruiter, Assistant Manager- Community Learning Centers, Family Support Specialist, Lead Toddler Teacher, and Assistant Toddler Teacher. Adrianne has a bachelor’s degree in child, youth, and family studies.
Sarah Wantoch is a program coordinator for Envisions of Norfolk. Her background is unique in the Human Services field because she comes from a professional sales background. Sarah originally planned to become an attorney and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Kansas. Her experience in management, organization, and goal setting helps her connect individuals with others in the community as employees, volunteers and friends with the goal of helping individuals become as independent and self-sufficient as possible. Ms. Wantoch serves the clients by teaching them, serving as a guide, and being a role model.
Jon Barnes has taught human services and human relations courses at Northeast since 2013. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in family life from Nebraska Christian College and a Master of Arts degree in counseling from Lincoln Christian University. Prior to teaching, he spent 7 years as a Mental Health Therapist at Oasis Counseling in Norfolk providing individual, couple, and family therapy services in person and via telehealth. He also worked in the Substance Use department facilitating group and individual treatment.
Colleen Freeman is a PhD Candidate completing her dissertation in Organizational Psychology from Northcentral University. She holds a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace University. As a counselor she worked for Open Door Mission working with residents, primarily in the drug and alcohol rehabilitation program from 2011-2013. Ms. Freeman has worked as an adjunct professor for Midland University, Wayne State College, Crown College, and Grace University. She was an Associate Professor at Grace University from 2013 until the school closed in 2018 and the department chair from 2016-2018. Ms. Freeman has worked for Northeast Community College since 2018 teaching psychology and human services courses.
Misty Wortman has worked as a Family Support Specialist at Cedars Youth Services (Lincoln). She then worked at the Department of Health & Human Services as a Social Worker I and then as a Training Specialist. Ms. Wortman began instructing Psychology courses at Southeast Community College (Lincoln campus) before moving to this region and now serves as both Behavioral Science instructor and Assessment Coordinator for Northeast Community College. Her educational degrees consist of an Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology & Sociology and a Master of Science in Education, both from Wayne State College.
Chief Don Miller's law enforcement career began in 1990 when he was hired as a Patrol Officer and remained on patrol until 1994. From 1994-1996 he worked as a Detective until he was promoted to Corporal. After several years of serving as a Corporal, he was promoted to the rank of Patrol Sergeant in 1999. He supervised patrol shifts as a Sergeant until 2013 when he was promoted to Operations Captain, where his responsibilities included the overall management function of all sworn officers. April of 2019 he was promoted to Chief of Police and oversees all functions of the Norfolk Police Division. In addition to his normal police duties, Chief Miller spent four years on the Accident Investigation Team specializing in major accident investigations from 1992-1996. He was also one of the original members of the Tactical Response Team (TRT) where he was the Assistant TRT Commander from 1995-1997 and TRT Commander from 1997-2009. Among the many programs he worked on over the years, he increased the use of technology to include electronic accident reporting, electronic jail management, use of Facebook, and use of CARFAX for police investigations. Additionally, he proposed and developed the Police Division wellness program, which developed into a city-wide wellness program. In his current position, he developed and implemented a hiring and retention program to include a Master Police Officer Position, improved uniform options, began a space needs assessment for the Police Facility, and is working on incorporating several work functions with outside agencies. Chief Miller teaches several topics to both new and experienced officers.
Matthew McCarthy has been the Director/Instructor of the Criminal Justice Department for the last 20 years at Northeast Community College. Prior to that he was a Nebraska law enforcement officer for nearly 20 years. He sits on the Nebraska Police Standards Advisory Board which oversees the training and certification of every law enforcement officer in Nebraska. Mr. McCarthy is the immediate past chair of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Community College section. In addition, he is active on several other national/state organizations. He is the Criminal Justice advisor/coach for the SkillsUSA CSI competition team and is one of the advisors for the Criminal Justice Club. Mr. McCarthy has a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State College and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.