March is National Social Work Month and Newman University is saying “thank you” to its students, graduates, staff and faculty.
The theme for 2021’s Social Work Month is “Social Workers Are Essential,” according to the National Association of Social Workers. The organization was founded in 1955 and is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world.
Its website states, “Social workers are essential to community well-being. As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. They are employed to effect positive change with individuals, families, groups and entire communities.”
Jessica Bird, interim dean for the School of Education and Social Work at Newman, said she wants her students and staff to know how much they are appreciated and how much of a difference in community members’ lives they are making.
“The mission of the university really aligns with social work. We talk a lot about service, social justice, treating everyone with dignity — our department embodies all those things,” said Bird.
The Newman University social work program has certainly grown throughout the years. Newman has offered a Master of Social Work since 1998 and started a Bachelor of Social Work program in 2019.
The programs are offered in both Wichita and the university’s outreach location in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and enrollment continues to grow each year.
Jenny Jones, Wichita MSW program coordinator, said the education that students receive at Newman has been enhanced through a new curriculum.
“The Newman MSW program is unique in a lot of different ways, but I think the main thing is our curriculum change,” said Jones. “It is focused on trauma-informed principles and the latest research on neuroscience and how trauma has affected clients. We (also) are teaching our students the correct assessments and interventions to use on clients once they are actually practicing in the field.”
With small class sizes and dual locations, students are able to develop stronger academic relationships with professors, leaving them with a memorable and successful higher education experience.
Bird said the faculty at Newman is top-notch and she is proud to be part of a great team.
“I think the benefit to the student is actually the knowledge and experience of our professors,” she said. “They have a wide range of experience … and I think that diversity and their backgrounds give the students a better educational experience.”