Social workers join staff

On a mission to help students with their mental health

Jade Infantolino, Staff Writer

“I could never be a teacher,” said Laura Starr. Social worker Laura Starr works with NKHS providing support for teens and their mental health. Before her job here at the school, Starr went to undergrad school at Smith College studying Spanish literature and received her masters at Simmons College in social work. After college Starr worked with people struggling with addictions to provide mental help and realized that she cared more about the patients’ mental health and emotions rather than their education.

“I like helping others and seeing people happy,” said Starr. 

Surprisingly, she has not always wanted to be a social worker or even work with kids. She had previously worked in a Job Corps school environment, which she loved, and soon missed working in a school setting. 

Similar to her career now, she used to work in a women’s prison providing therapy and support. Starr said she loved her job there and “the women I worked with who were incarcerated were amazing people.”

Starr likes to sing in the car and especially likes to belt out “Halo” by Beyonce. Something that may surprise you about her is that she has a song on iTunes with her college acapella group, the Smiffenpoofs. 

She also likes nature hikes and would like to take up the hobby of painting. Consistent with the creativity demonstrated by her wish to paint, if she wasn’t a social worker right now Starr would want to become a flower arranger. 

Flowers are amazing and incredible science machines. [They are] Creative in a different way,” she said. 

Goofy, thoughtful, and creative are three words that Shannon Kinsella would use to describe herself. Kinsella went to school for undergrad at Roger Williams, where she studied psychology and got her masters at University of Hawaii for counseling. She loved living in Hawaii; she lived in Hilo, a big island that had seven different climates for 2 ½ years. The only downside of living there was how far away she was from family. 

Kinsella first worked at an outpatient addiction center, where she liked her coworkers but didn’t like being stuck in an office all day. Then she worked in home-based services with kids and families providing therapy. Once she started working in a therapeutic school, she knew that’s what she wanted to do because she liked being in a fast-paced school environment and wanted to help people and work with their emotions. 

Kinsella has two labs named Lily and Bella, who she would spend every moment with if she could. She loves being outside with them and going on nature hikes but would love to try paddle boarding sometime. 

Kinsella wants to work at a nursery with plants because the colorful plants make everyone happy and she enjoys watching things grow. 

Something about her that some may find surprising or surprisingly weird is that she loves to put hot sauce on everything — and by everything she means everything — even her pizza! She likes Frank’s hot sauce but is not too fond of Tabasco.