The National Association of Social Workers has named June Gary Hopps a NASW Social Work Pioneer®. The NASW Social Work Pioneer® Program recognizes those who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of social work and who serve as role models for future generations of social workers. Hopps, University of Georgia Thomas M. “Jim” Parham Professor of Family and Children’s Studies, was among 12 individuals inducted into the program in October 2013. “Dr. Hopps has made enormous contributions to the cause of social justice and to social work education, from her involvement in the historic Atlanta student sit-ins to her national leadership as a scholar, teacher and administrator,” said Maurice C. Daniels, dean of UGA’s School of Social Work. “The School of Social Work joins the NASW in saluting this eminent pioneer in social work.” Hopps earned her undergraduate degree in political science and history at Spelman College, where she was active in the civil rights movement. In 1960, she helped to organize and participated in the first student sit-in and lunchcounter boycotts in Atlanta, which ultimately resulted in the desegregation of public facilities in that city.
After earning a master’s degree in social work at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) and a doctorate in planning and policy at Brandeis University, Hopps joined the faculty at Ohio State University. Four years later she joined Boston College’s Graduate School of June Gary Hopps Social Work as the youngest dean in the school’s history. Over the next 24 years at Boston College, Hopps took the small school to national prominence. The school rose to rank 14th in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report, and faculty publication rankings rose to the top 10, according to a study in the Journal of Social Work Education. Hopps’ many honors include recognition by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare for outstanding public service and the NASW Presidential Award for Excellence in Social Work Education. In 2005, Spelman College named the June Gary Hopps Atrium in her honor.
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June Gary Hopps named National Social Work Pioneer®
Shari Miller: Changing lives through teaching Shari Miller, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, has spent six years at UGA not only changing the lives of students, but also changing the lives of people in the Athens community. Working with faculty from the horticulture and foods and nutrition departments as well as the environmental educator at the State Botanical Garden, Miller created an after-school garden program for Athens-Clarke County elementary school students. UGA students from those disciplines worked in teams with children at the local schools to address issues such as poverty, wellness and sustainability. The garden program is just one of Miller’s unique classroom experiences. Miller has employed a range of other methods, including role-playing, small-group discussion, field trips and service-learning in her classes. She also uses a variety of technology such as videos, music and the Internet to help provide more perspective to her students. She describes her teaching method as active, saying she often “encourages students to take risks, to explore ideas out loud and to grapple with and tolerate the uncertainty that accompanies working with humans in human circumstances.” In recognition of her innovative and effective teaching strategies, Miller was named a 2013 recipient of the Richard
B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the university’s highest early career teaching honor. Russell Awards annually honor three outstanding teaching faculty. Winners receive $5,000. While Miller’s use of Shari Miller varied teaching methods in and outside of the classroom has brought her some recognition, it’s her passion and ability to connect with students that makes the biggest impact. Former students also praise Miller for her enthusiasm and compassion and talk about the effect it had on them. “When my classmates or I related an overwhelming story from our field experience, she would respond with empathy, but also find strengths in our approach,” said former student Caroline Lozen. “She is the teacher who changed the dynamic of my education from simply retaining information, to making the text meaningful and real. “It was this new lens on learning that spurred my passion to delve further into the field,” Lozen also said. F A L L
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By Matt Chambers, Columns
University of Georgia School of Social Work