Outstanding teaching and inspirational mentorship: Social Work faculty awarded 2023 Wayne State President's Award for Excellence in Teaching

Wayne State University School of Social Work Associate Professor Carolyn Dayton has been named a recipient of the 2023 Wayne State University President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The President's Awards for Excellence in Teaching recognizes faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to teaching. Since 1977, 308 WSU faculty members have been recognized for their teaching with this award. Dayton received her award at the April 23, 2023 Academic Recognition Award Ceremony, along with 9 other recipients from across the university.

Carolyn Dayton“I feel deeply honored to have received this award. Teaching in the Dual-Title Infant Mental Health Program brings me a great deal of joy. I am so proud of our Dual Title graduates! The vast majority of them are working in the Metro Detroit region and each and every one of them makes the lives of infants, toddlers, young children and their families stronger.  It’s truly an honor to teach our amazing students!”

Dayton earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University, a Graduate Certificate in Infant Mental Health from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Arts in Psychology from Michigan State University, a Masters of Social Work from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts from Kalamazoo College. As a licensed practitioner of clinical social work and clinical psychology, and an endorsed infant mental health mentor, Dayton has worked to support families in a variety of ways throughout her career including through the mentorship of students entering the infant mental health profession and research partnerships with community organizations to address barriers to healthy fatherhood and families. Dayton’s clinical work with families aims to identify biological and psychosocial risk and resilience factors that influence parenting processes and early child development.

Through nurturing and safe relationships with parental figures, infants, toddlers and young children build strong or weak foundations for all emotional, cognitive, and social development. Rooted in this belief, the Wayne State University School of Social Work and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development came together to form the Dual-Title Social Work and Infant Mental Health (IMH) Program. As Associate Director of the IMH Program, Dayton has developed curriculum, mentored masters and doctorate level students, directly trained students, and developed practicum placements for hands-on community-based learning.

“Serving as the Associate Director of the IMH Program is one of the highlights of my career. Teaching and mentoring masters and doctoral level students is an honor and brings me great joy. Our students go on to work to support families of infants, toddlers and young children at the individual, community, policy and research levels.“

Dayton’s colleagues noted in the nomination materials that she was “demonstrably committed to her students and, by extension, to the communities that they will serve. She is known for her ability to adapt her teaching to individual student needs and strengths and to harness the power of diversity in the classroom. Students rate her classroom teaching as outstanding and praise her mentoring as inspirational.”

Dayton is currently working to address the workforce shortage facing the infant mental health profession by increasing the annual cohort size within the IMH Program and launching the Social Work Family Clinic. The new clinic will be an integrated clinic offering infant mental health trainees the opportunity to work with infants, children and families alongside Wayne Pediatrics allied health professionals. Located at 400 Mack, the clinic is slated to open in fall, 2023.  

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