The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Beers to leave legacy at WA

Susan Beers in her office, besides the LGBT flag.

By Madhu Kaushik
Staff Writer

Besides trying to achieve decent grades and finding time for friends, students at WA try to discover who they are, and throughout the whole process Susan Beers has offered her help and caring personality as a social worker in their times of need.

Beers, who has spent 26 and a half years at the high school, plans on retiring from her job as school social worker in January. Here, she devotes her time to guiding struggling students through academic troubles and coping with personal problems.

Small and comfortable, Mrs. Beers’ office has walls plastered with inspirational quotes and the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rainbow flag. Her establishment of the Gay-Straight Alliance, or GSA, is one of her biggest accomplishments.

“I’ve been the advisor to the GSA since 1994 when it was first established,” she recalls.

Before then, LGBT students were not as accepted as they are now. Through her efforts and connection with students at WA, Beers has been able to make the club a success and create a comfortable environment for future students in the process. I really helped establish that. We were involved in actually beginning the creation of that diversity mural that you can see down by the cafeteria.”

But Beers’ connection and dedication towards creating an accepting student body extends into helping individuals themselves. She has treated students with depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorders, as well as those with learning disabilities.

“In more recent years, I’ve had more and more students on the autism spectrum. My responsibility has become more and more to help those students develop social skills because that’s a social learning disability,” she said.

Every year, Beers has worked with students with mental health issues, including those transitioning back into school after hospitalizations. Therefore, she is able to further that individual’s learning and ease them back into Westford Academy.

It will be difficult to find someone willing to co-advise the GSA and conduct the groups for teenagers battling similar problems, both of which Mrs. Beers does in her work at the school. Regardless, her position is being advertised, and the interviewing process has started.

Beers agrees that there has been positive change in the school that she hopes continues after she leaves, such as the confidentiality maintained in her groups and the ability for students to find adults or peers that they can confide in. However, she also has seen differences during the course of her years here.

“The diversity I think is good,” she said, referring to the doubled student body and increasing number of ethnic groups. “I think the pressures on students are too much at times.”

Beers has touched the lives of countless students, in the past and now. She has directed them through the turbulence that is high school, and along the path to finding out themselves. But these students aren’t the only ones who have been changed.

“It’s a nice experience to meet so many different kinds of students from different families and walks of life […] it just depends on your character, I guess, when you’re involved in trying to guide people. Then you have to follow your own advice!” she said with a laugh.

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