On March 23 when the University of Calgary recognized some of the best and brightest teachers from across the institution, the faculty of Social Work was well-represented as faculty members were recognized with four awards.
The awards are a special acknowledgement of the outstanding contributions to student learning, and in the introduction to the event, Provost of the University of Calgary, Dru Marshall, PhD, said the awards reflected the winners “significant and sustained excellence, dedication and enthusiasm to the diverse aspects of postsecondary teaching.”
The full list winners from the Faculty of Social Work included:
- Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities Team: Award for Curriculum Development (with the Werklund School of Education);
- Sally St. George, PhD: Award for Full-Time Academic Staff (Professor);
- Les Jerome and Linda Kreitzer, PhD: Award for Team Teaching, and,
- Jessica Ayala, PhD: Award for Teaching in Online Environments.
Jessica Ayala’s, PhD award for Teaching in Online Environments continues Social Work’s leadership role in distance learning. Ayala has been an important part of that legacy since 2,000 and has taught more than 26 online courses. Ayala says that, “technology works best when it is used purposefully – as a tool to achieve specific learning objectives,” and she designs courses using a “combination of teaching methodologies intentionally designed to advance student’s ability to engage in critical reflection and analysis.”
The Team-Teaching award presented to Les Jerome and Linda Kreitzer, PhD, is unique in that Kreitzer teaches from our Edmonton campus, while Jerome teaches at our Calgary campus, making their juggling act as team-teachers even more impressive. Using the Faculty of Social Work’s remotely connected classrooms, the two professors deliver INDG 399 - Special Topics in International Indigenous Studies in a way that uses their individual strength, experience and wisdom to create deep and profound student learning experience. As one of their students put it, “I found this to be one of the most engaging and influential courses of my undergrad degree. It was stellar example of strong and passionate co-teaching and it has been an invaluable contribution to my education thus far. The material was communicated with depth and clarity, the students felt respected and they were engaged and supported both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Sally St. George, PhD was presented with the award for Full-Time Academic Staff, reflecting a teaching style which is built on a collaborative approach. As St. George says, “the class and class progress is OURS — it is neither mine nor the students.” Not surprisingly, St. George uses student feedback to shape her class and approach, which the students really respond to, as one student reflected, “Dr. St. George has a way of inviting students into the learning process. She has a magical way of creating an environment or space of mutuality — in her classes there is a sense of togetherness that I have not experienced in any other classroom setting.”
One of the first awards given out at the award ceremony, went to an impressive, interdisciplinary Curriculum Development initiative between the Faculty of Social Work, the Werklund School of Education and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre. The Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities team, included Lana Wells, Tonya Callaghan, PhD, Darren Lund, PhD, Deinera Exner-Cortens, PhD and Kim Campbell from the Sheldon Kennedy Centre. The team collaboratively established an innovative four-course program to assist future educators, social workers, health care providers, and other community workers in promoting healthy relationships and environments for all youth.
The program integrated technology, experiential activities such as classes at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, and a variety of projects. The result was a unique, aligned, learning platform that students said was, “meticulously planned and facilitated” and “life changing.” The evidence-based curriculum also had the primary goal of reducing domestic violence through preventative education, aspiring to teach so, “the next generation can live a life free of domestic violence.”
Sustainability Award Winners
These awards capped off a busy week for the Faculty of Social Work. The previous day Julie Drolet, PhD, who teaches at our Edmonton campus in the faculty’s North and Central Alberta Region, was recognized at the University’s ninth annual Sustainability Awards, where she was presented with a Sustainability Award in Teaching Leadership. The Award recognizes professors based on a number of criteria including, “outstanding and inspirational instruction” for courses that “concentrate on the concept of sustainability, including its social, economic and environmental dimensions, or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens.” One of Drolet’s areas of focus in helping communities recover in the aftermath of disasters created by, or heightened by climate change.
Erika Lemon, a Faculty of Social Work Master’s student was also recognized with a Student Leadership Award, for her role with the Crowsnest Composting Team.
Women’s Resource Centre, Distinguished Undergraduate Winner
Finally, Bachelor of Social Work student Chrystal Campbell was recognized as the winner of the University of Calgary Women’s Resource Centre Distinguished Undergraduate Student Award Recipient for 2017. Campbell who attends the faculty’s Edmonton campus, started her academic career in her late 20’s, first in Business Administration, before transitioning into Social Work field. Chrystal is now in her final year of the Bachelor of Social Work program at the University of Calgary. In the award notification it says that as a proud First Nations woman, Campbell “is dedicated to finding creative ways to apply her academic and life experience in her community.”