Excellence in the classroom: Wayne State School of Social Work announces 2022 Teaching and Service Award recipients

For 87 years, the Wayne State University School of Social Work has been committed to quality teaching and community engagement that encourages cultural humility, benefits the community, and pays attention to social, economic and environmental justice. In support of this mission, we annually call on students, faculty, and staff to nominate faculty and staff for teaching and service awards.

Social Work Teaching Awards

Each year, our students nominate full-time and part-time professors that they believe exemplify excellence in the classroom. These nominees are not just great social workers – they also have a unique gift for communicating the essential concepts of social work practice and research in a way that makes them exciting, accessible, and memorable, so their students draw upon them for years to come.

Norma Love-SchropshireNorma Love-Schropshire joined Wayne State University’s School of Social Work as a part-time faculty member in 2012. Presently, she serves the School of Social Work as a full-time assistant professor of teaching and the BSW program director. She received a Doctor of Social Work (DSW, 2020) degree from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. She received a Master of Social Work (MSW, 2000) from the University of Michigan with a concentration on interpersonal practice with children, youth and families in society. She received a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSW, 1998) and Certificate in Human Resources (2012) from Eastern Michigan University. She practiced more than eighteen years as a case manager, assessment specialist, medical and clinical social worker and school social worker in the Detroit Public Schools among other Michigan public school districts.

Love-Schropshire’s students nominated her as the 2022 Teacher of the Year for her passion for social work and commitment to her students. Students also praised her for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to students about their concerns and providing encouragement and motivation to succeed. Her weekly video announcements were described as one of the best creative tools in education. She is noted as a true inspiration to students and a splendid example of what great professors should be. Her colleagues also lauded her commitment to strengthening and growing the BSW program.

Kess BallentineKess Ballentine joined Wayne State University’s School of Social Work as an assistant professor in 2021. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked as an elementary special educator, as well as on a NIMH-funded study of group home care for children with mental health and behavioral disorders. Ballentine has also worked as a domestic violence advocate and a community program developer. Through her practice, she has gained insight into the fields of education, mental health, and child welfare and is now applying this knowledge as an engaged researcher on efforts to improve family and child well-being among lower-income families. Ballentine is passionate about community impact and teaching. She is also committed to expanding diversity in social work practice and leadership through teaching and supporting historically and systematically excluded students.

Her students nominated her to be the 2022 Teacher of the Year for using creative techniques to help us acquire knowledge that kept us engaged and thinking critically of the literature at hand. They appreciated being challenged to dig deeper into our life experiences, question our beliefs and biases, and find constructive and empowering ways to be agents of change. One student noted that she was better able to think about herself and what she brought to the table – or to the agency, or to my client – with regards to power and privilege, as well as being able to see the ways in which inequality continue to oppress our most vulnerable communities. Students praised Ballentine for being an effective, inspiring, and outstanding professor.  

Social Work Service Awards

Annually, our faculty and staff nominate outstanding colleagues who put their passion to work devoting time and attention to providing service to the School of Social Work, its students, the greater social work community and the profession. These nominees embody service of an exemplary nature using creativity, innovation, leadership and mentorship to empower social change in and out of the classroom.

Shantalea JohnsShantalea Johns, director of continuing education and assistant professor of teaching at Wayne State University School of Social Work, leads the development and administration of continuing education credits (CEs) to social workers and allied health professionals. Johns has a doctorate in education with a focus in leadership and policy studies from Wayne State University. Before her current position, Johns was an Academic Services Officer III with the School of Social Work. As an Academic Services Officer, she received numerous awards for best practices in academic advising and service to the advising profession. In 2016, Johns was named an emerging leader by the Global Community for Academic Advisors (NACADA). Her contribution to the advising profession includes publications, conference planning, and local, national, and international presentations. She is also an appointed member of the research and publication divisions of NACADA.

Johns’ colleagues nominated and selected her for a 2022 Service of the Year Award for her extensive service activities in the School of Social work, university, and community. She was described as a shining star whose enthusiasm for the work she does at WSU, especially her service to students and the greater Detroit community, is infectious. A new faculty member noted that Johns’ passion played a huge part in helping her feel a genuine connection to the SSW and Detroit, regardless of having never stepped foot in Michigan before. Johns was also praised for her mentoring activities that help Black social work students navigate historically unwelcome academic spaces by encouraging their research and career interests and facilitating connections between them and other faculty members or professional organizations that can further cultivate their growth in these areas.

Judith WinemanJudith Wineman joined the School of Social Work in 2014 and serves as an associate professor of teaching. She has worked in New York City and nationally as a political and community organizer for nearly 30 years after earning her M.S.S.W. at Columbia University. She held leadership positions at ILGWU (now UNITE) Retiree Service Department from 1978 to 1999, then worked as director of AFL-CIO Dept. of Older and Retired Workers until 2002. After consulting for four years, Wineman in 2006 returned to the Motor City, where she served as development director for the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation until 2010.

Wineman’s colleagues nominated and selected her for a 2022 Service of the Year Award for serving on numerous committees and being a role model for both social work students and alumni, utilizing her considerable advocacy and organizational skills to empower others and create vehicles that promote social justice. They noted that Wineman demonstrates creativity, innovation, leadership, and mentorship daily. She is praised for launching the Social Work Student Alliance (“Alliance”) in April 2021, an umbrella student organization for SSW student groups, establishing the SSW Campaign Training School, SW vote campaign, and developing and mentoring numerous student organizations. Further, she initiated the Wineman/Schopmeyer Family Endowed Student Support Fund to fuel the essential work of the Social Work Student Alliance.

Lawrence Robinson Jr.Lawrence B. Robinson Jr. joined the School of Social Work in 2019 and serves as an academic advisor to MSW students in the Advanced Standing Program and those in the CADAS (Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies) graduate certificate program. He earned his MSW degree from Wayne State University. Robinson promotes educational achievement and workforce development for underrepresented populations. Robinson has partnered with others to develop, implement, and evaluate student support programs and services for organizations such as WSU Office of Federal TRIO, WSU FOCIS, Connect Detroit, The Yunion, and the City of Detroit Mayor’s Office. Robinson’s experience consists of counseling university and K-12 students, along with providing case management and workforce development services for Detroit youth and families. In addition, Robinson has launched the Detroit-E3 (Exposure, Engagement, Empowerment) social change venture, which bridges gaps between education and industry.

Robinson’s colleagues nominated and selected him for a 2022 Service of the Year Award for his dedication to student success. He was praised for his efforts in creating pathways for African American men to earn MSW degrees and have careers supporting Detroit and surrounding communities. His colleagues also described Robinson as competent, conscientious, committed, and an excellent listener. They noted that he puts students and colleagues at ease with his humor and genuine care toward others. Further, he places his students first, supports them, and vigorously advocates for their needs. He also serves in several leadership roles in the community and profession.

Kendra WellsKendra Wells joined the Center for Social Work Research in September 2017 and serves as the manager of research support. She received her MSW from Wayne State in May 2018 with a concentration in Policy. Wells' own policy and research interests are in medical cannabis, the industry's intersection with the criminal justice system, and the complex process of establishing patient rights and protections. She is eager to bring a social work voice to the emerging industry.

Wells’ colleagues nominated and selected her for a 2022 Service of the Year Award because she embodies the spirit of service in her broad contributions to the social work profession, the students, staff, faculty in the School of Social Work, and the greater Wayne State University community. Her colleagues noted that she created an incubator that transitions students from learner to doer through exceptional and invaluable research support to the School of Social Work faculty and staff. They praised her for the time she devotes fostering students’ professional skill development, so they thrive as they transition from social work students to social work practitioners. There can be no greater contribution to the social work profession than preparing the next generation of practitioners to thrive in any role as they matriculate into new careers in service.

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