Kayla Antes: ‘The work we do here is absolutely incredible and really is setting the standard statewide’
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
Social work was not her original major in college, but Monterey Peninsula Unified School District’s Kayla Antes is so glad she found it. She went through several majors, including criminology and psychology before finding social work and has not looked back.
“My classes were so engaging and amazing,” she beams. “Getting to dive in and getting to work with the population and the people sealed the deal.”
Kayla went on to pursue a masters degree in social work at the University of Southern California, and it was at USC that solidified that school social work is where she wanted to be.
Prior to coming to MPUSD, Kayla worked for Seneca Family of Agencies and the National Center for Youth Law. While at NCYL a colleague shared with her about an opening and she went for it. The partnership between NCYL and MPUSD was already underway, and that is how Kayla became part of the MPUSD family as a social worker. She has been a team member supporting students and families for one and a half years.
“No day is the same and that’s part of why I love it so much,” shares Kayla.
Whether it’s tiered meetings in the morning to collaboration with staff members on a specific student or family to gather more information or leaning into the rapport that staff have with a family, she works hard to build trust among those she serves. Kayla meets with students to work on educational goals or whatever they would like to work towards. She also goes on home visits or to MPUSD’s Family Resource Center to pick up items for families. Her work extends beyond MPUSD as she serves on a coalition of homeless service providers in Monterey County and attends meetings. She is dedicated to supporting students and families from the macro all the way down to a micro level.
When asked what lights her up, she shares, “Getting to see a student empower themselves and make a change in their lives. When it finally clicks in their head and they see they can achieve a goal and that light goes off, it’s the best feeling to see that achievement in themselves.”
Oftentimes, community members will say, “Gosh you’re supporting these families doing all these great things,” and Kayla respondes, “While all of that is true it’s really the families doing the work. If they're not engaged and not wanting to make the change it’s not going to happen. I am just there to empower them and help them navigate the craziness. The work they achieve comes from them, not from us.”
Recently, Kayla played a significant role in MPUSD partnering with Motel 6 to serve our student population and their families experiencing homelessness. She saw a presentation from the Monterey County Office of Education on emergency stays and the need in the area. MPUSD wanted to pursue this idea, but wasn’t sure how the funding would work. Kayla had recently booked a previous stay for a family through the county at Motel 6 and she recalled what a pleasure they were to work with. With the approval of her supervisor, she reached out to Motel 6 to learn about their corporate plus program and MPUSD found it to be a beneficial opportunity for our families.
“Three days in temporary housing allows time to help families apply for other programs. It allows time to relax and for the child to feel safe for a couple of days. It also allows the MPUSD team to build trust and a rapport while building a plan to continue working with a family in the long term," Kayla said. “Homelessness is not Monday through Friday, and this allows them to get through the weekend so we can help them on Monday."
Kayla knows the work she's doing in our community is making a difference.
“I have really loved working with MPUSD and being a part of it. The work we do here is absolutely incredible and really is setting the standard statewide,” said Kayla.
Outside of work she professes to be a homebody. She enjoys watching movies and hanging out with her dog, who is her world. She is also an avid outdoors person and can be found running or walking her dog around down.