Faculty Member Receives Community Engaged Teaching Award
Dr. Shalay Jackson has made it her mission to engage her students in the content and courses she teaches that later translates to competence in the social work field. This approach is especially important for courses like her Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations course (SOW4360) as excitement and enthusiasm for community engagement is imperative for immersion and appreciation of the coursework. She received a 2020 FSU Community Engaged Teaching Award for her community-centered instructional approach.
“In this course, the community extends beyond geographic location to also include relational communities such as recovery, re-entry, and LGTBTQ+ communities,” stated Dr. Jackson. For five consecutive semesters, Dr. Jackson has been connecting her students in this class with local communities through assignments encouraging them to actively participate in these communities through event participation, assessment, interviews and assignments.
Students are divided into teams in order to utilize macro-level social work practice skills to address a real-life social problem of their choice. Throughout the semester they conduct research and interview with community members who represent the population impacted by the social problem or provide services to those impacted. Based on this research, students create a strategic plan based on the information they gather and develop a logic model describing an intervention approach to address the social problem.
Students not only leave this course with a strong understanding of the applicability of macro social work skills, but it can often lead to a career path. Social Work Alumna Faith Dekanter attributes her interest in community-level social work largely from student experiences with Dr. Jackson.
“I appreciated that Dr. Jackson always provided us with tools, readings, and experiences that were rooted in the everyday reality of community social work. I never found myself questioning if what we were learning would transfer into my professional work,” said Faith Dekanter, community engagement coordinator for The Dwellings in Tallahassee, an organization providing sustainable housing solutions for individuals that are socially or economically disadvantaged. “Dr. Jackson does an amazing job of facilitating community connections for her students and continues to offer me growing opportunities as a professional.”
Dr. Jackson maintains this strong connection with former students with an appreciation for the importance of social work connections for students with alumni and professional social workers. Dekanter regularly connects with Dr. Jackson’s students to inform them about her role and homelessness issues in the Tallahassee community.
Dr. Jackson takes her knowledge and passion for macro social work and public health into other courses she teaches regularly including; Social Welfare Policies and Programs (SOW4232), Social Work Administration (SOW5377), Graduate Field Instruction II (SOW5535) and Integrative Seminar in Advanced Social Work Practice (SOW5369).
Students in these other courses are similarly immersed in the applicable contexts and communities so that theory quickly becomes practice. One example was her 2019 Social Welfare Policies and Programs course in which Shalay’s students teamed up with a class from the FSU College of Law in order for each to inform one another on Amendment 4, a constitutional amendment that restored voting rights of people with felony convictions.
“Shalay fostered a connection between social work students and law students, two worlds that are often siloed,” stated Carla Laroche, a clinical professor at the FSU College of Law Public Interest Law Center whose course collaborated with Dr. Jackson’s, in her award recommendation letter. “I am constantly inspired by how Shalay engages her students in the community. Whether it is through having her students attend legislative committee meeting so they understand how the laws that impact the people they will serve are developed, introducing her students to community activists who align with their career interests, or working with students as they research a policy issue, Shalay’s students are continuously engaging in and centering the needs of marginalized communities as they learn.”