Lakeland Elementary 616 Buckley Street Elk Rapids, MI 49629 P: 231-264-8289 F: 231-264-6132

Principal: Angie Nichols
Secretaries: Beth Veeder, Elaine DiGiovanni

Social Work

Social-emotional health is an essential foundation of a child’s education, and the staff at Lakeland is committed to the health, well-being and safety of every student.  To this end, the Second Step program is embedded within each grade level, and includes age-appropriate lessons focused on bullying prevention, social-emotional health and personal safety.

Along with this important curriculum, Social Work at Lakeland includes advocacy for students and support for families in varying states of need, as well as support and professional development for teachers.  This may include individual or group sessions with students in school, as well as support for families navigating other community support systems.

Other Social Work programs, like The Backpack Program, address the immediate needs of many students by filling their backpacks every Friday with a bag of healthy meals for the weekend.  The Backpack Program is a community partnership opportunity offered through The Manna Food Project and includes many local businesses who donate fresh food, hold fundraising events and/or make annual donations. We are grateful for the partnerships with Altonen Farm, UnderToe Farm, Royal Farms, Providence Organic Farm,  King’s Orchard, Townline Cider, Short’s Brewery, Village Market, the Lions Club and several area churches.

Finally, but not exhaustively, the entire Lakeland staff continues on a years-long journey of becoming Trauma-Informed through the work and training led by our Elementary School Social Worker, Samantha Abeel, as well as partnerships with area organizations dedicated to student well-being and safety.   Trauma in childhood can include any ongoing events that may be significant to a child’s feelings of safety.  This may include things like divorce or separation, fear for loved ones who may be affected by addiction or depression,  and other more infrequent high-stress events.  Teachers learn to recognize and respond to students experiencing ongoing trauma, with the goal of supporting students in a way that reduces stress and negative impact.

Lakeland staff recognizes social-emotional intelligence as a foundational part of curriculum, in that social-emotional well-being has broad positive impact including cognitive access to learning and academic success.   In this way, every child at Lakeland benefits from the integration of academics and social work programs.

Hello and Welcome!

My name is Samantha Abeel, and I am the Elk Rapids Elementary School Social Worker. It is truly an honor for me to be a member of the Elk Rapids school family, and to be a part of this important chapter in your child’s growth and development.

My role at school is a varied one, but every day I work to provide social and emotional support to our elementary students and their families. During the school year I connect with students for a wide range of reasons, some of these include: struggles with anxiety and or depression, parental divorce or family change, friendship concerns or difficulty fitting-in, the death or illness of a loved one, and academic or behavioral concerns.

The supports I provide come in many forms: meeting with students one on one and in small groups, conducting whole class instruction, helping to link students and parents with outside resources, attending mental health appointments, consulting with teachers and educational support staff, providing behavior support and assessments, and being an available touch-point for students and parents.

In other words, I am here to HELP! Please feel free to contact me anytime at the phone numbers and e-mail listed, or stop-by in-person to chat.

Attached to this page please find: school social work permission forms and release forms available for you to print and fill out as needed. I have also attached links to some resources that parents and guardians may find helpful!


Samantha Abeel, LMSW
Elk Rapids Elementary Social Worker
Mill Creek / Lakeland