Wayne State University

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Wayne State alumna named Michigan’s Social Worker of the Year

April 4, 2016

Rola Bazzi-Gates, a graduate of the Wayne State School of Social Work (M.S.W. ’98) and a field instructor for Wayne State social work students, has been named Social Worker of the Year by the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-Michigan). The award will be presented on May 13 at the NASW Board meeting in Lansing.

A veteran school social worker, Bazzi-Gates has practiced with Dearborn Public Schools for 18 years, most recently at Geer Park Elementary and Becker Elementary. Winner of the Dearborn Public Schools’ 2015 Impact Award, given to a staff member who demonstrates the school district’s core values and provides superlative customer service, Bazzi-Gates has distinguished herself through her efforts to empower students and their families. Specifically, she creates and coordinates parent workshops on effective parent-to-child communication skills and implements student programs and assemblies focused on leadership, peer mediation, social skills, and core values. She was named 2011 School Social Worker of the Year by the Michigan Association of School Social Workers Region A and 2006 Outstanding Ancillary Employee of the Year by Dearborn Public Schools and Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency.

Bazzi-Gates, who during the past decade has served as a mental health therapist with Apex Behavioral Health and a social work supervisor, mentor, and consultant with Hamadeh Educational Services, has provided field instruction training and mentoring at Dearborn Public Schools to more than 45 master’s-level social work students since 2000.

“Rola is an excellent field instructor who is committed to helping prepares students for professional practice,” said Anwar Najor-Durack, director of field education for the Wayne State School of Social Work. “I consistently hear from students how much they learn from her and feel prepared after their experience under her supervision.”

In August 2015 Bazzi-Gates earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Wayne State, where she also earned a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She is currently completing an Education Specialist Certificate in Administration and Supervision with a concentration in Special Education Administration at Wayne. Bazzi-Gates wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on the impact of parental involvement and encouragement on elementary school students’ academic success. She is a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Coach (PBIS), trained in Restorative Practices, and has Covey Leadership Teen Facilitator Certification. A native of Lebanon who is fluent in Arabic and French, she has been praised as an advocate for newly immigrated parents of Dearborn Public Schools students, many of who do not speak English, helping them access resources and services in the community.

“I feel incredibly honored to win such a prestigious award,” said Bazzi-Gates, who would like to help develop policy to advocate, empower, and support Michigan’s special education students and their parents.  “I love my job and the opportunity it gives me to serve the whole community. I love being able to make a difference in the lives of kids and their families.”

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