Joe Savage has a Passion for People

Joe Savage, one of the social workers at Round Lake High School, helps many by talking with them about their problems and giving solutions.


Kendra Kreger

Joe Savage, one of the social workers at Round Lake High School, talks with a student in his office. Savage has been with the Round Lake district for many years, and takes great pride in helping students overcome their issues and find solutions to their problems.

A man with sapphire eyes behind oval glasses is typing away on his computer at a metal desk in his tiled office;  framed pictures of his family and beautiful picturesque locations are set upon the surfaces in his office: filing cabinets and his desk. Several times throughout the day, he moves from behind the desk to sit and talk with students at a brown wooden table in the middle of his office. From troubled teenagers stressed out from grades to adequate adults worried about work, he has been the person that they can talk to. His name is Joe Savage, a school social worker, a certified therapist, a father, a son, and a husband.

     Savage can lend a helping hand to students from where he works at Round Lake High School. He can also be a therapist for parents, normal everyday adults, and many others, due to the licenses he achieved from college.

     When students are  falling down a hole of self-consciousness or just having a hard time coping with their parents, they can talk to Savage. Stored in his head is 20 years of education,  divided into four different periods of time. First, he had the basic United States’ traditional amount of time spent in elementary school, middle school, and high school, summed up to 12 years. Next, he spent four years as an undergrad in a community college to receive his bachelor’s degree. Then, he spent three years at another college studying long hours to eventually receive his rightfully-earned master’s degree. After that, curiosity drove him to attend Illinois Valley Community College to learn more information about cognitive therapy, a type of psychotherapy which helps people to reset their negative thought patterns and behaviors. Cognitive therapy is often used to help treat depression.

     Once Savage graduated from Illinois Valley Community College,  he worked three jobs at Vista Drug Rehabilitation Center in Waukegan, an alternative public high school, and another school for eight years. After working at the rehab center and the schools, he went to Loyola University in Chicago in Illinois for one year, which was generously paid by the Vista agency he was working for. Originally he wasn’t going to take another year of schooling, but the president of the agency he worked for had greatly encouraged him going to college again. In fact, she actually is the one that caused the agency to pay for that one extra year. The importance of this  was that he had gotten the license to work with people that are in the school that he works in and out of the school.

      He moved on to another high school, this one being an alternative private high school.“I never planned on becoming a school counselor, but I like talking to people and I used to like having someone to talk to in high school, so I took the schooling and the job,” Savage said. He worked there for about five years. He spent some time at John T. Magee Middle School in Round Lake, and now currently serves as a school counselor at Round Lake High School, helping about 40 to 50 students a week. That number may seem pretty huge, but he’s happy to report that  he succeeds with most.

     “He helped me with solving issues between me and my biological father,” said Renata Uden-Schuett, a student that has talked to Savage during therapeutic sessions throughout her eighth grade year.

     Savage had talked about a boy that was one of his clients during his time working for the drug rehabilitation center. He gave no name, but he explained what this boy had said during his time talking with him. The young man had said that he was too smart to get addicted to heroin, but he ended up becoming wrapped in the drug’s deadly claws. Savage had known that this boy was an addict that had refused to accept it, but the boy believed he didn’t need any help with his problem because he didn’t have one. One night, the boy’s parents came home expecting to to see their beloved son, but when they called for his name, he didn’t respond. They went into is room to see their son dead in his room from an overdose on heroin.

     “All drugs are bad, and even though some people may deny that they are addicted and swear that they are okay, that they don’t need help, but they need someone to determine that for them,” Savage said. “Denial is a very strong mask, and some people just can’t see under it.” This occurence affected his judgement and greatly added to his experience in being a therapist by knowing when to call parents and if his clients have problems and solutions for them.

     While Savage’s educational experience is expansive, he chalks up most of his success to the fact that he has a good rapport with the people he sees because he just enjoys being social. “I’d say that my motivation to study sociology and psychology is that I just enjoy talking to people,” he said.“I’m more of a social butterfly.”

      Not only does he enjoy making colorful conversation with people, but he finds it delightful meeting them too, which is one reason why he likes to go travelling. He has traveled all over the northern part of the world, from the most exotic states in the United States of America, to some royal countries in Europe. He’s been to five different countries in Europe, including Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. He’s also been to Mexico and Canada. He has traveled to all of the states in the U.S. except the ones bordering the upper east coast and and around The Gulf. According to Savage, the next locations he wants to visit are Italy or Germany and maybe Puerto Rico. Savage enjoys traveling so much because he finds pleasure in feeling different or out of place. Savage likens traveling to a foreign place to an optimistic fish out of water; a fish would not naturally be out of water, and the surroundings are  extremely different, but the fish is  happy with it.

     Savage has helped many people, whether it’s just talking to them about their problems, or guiding them to a path for answers to their problems, talking someone out of suicide, or helping them cut that rope that ties them to drugs. “I have helped many people,” Savage said. “I honestly can’t count the amount of people I have talked to about their problems. They have came to me about abuse, grades, sports, just everyday life that stresses them out.”