Senior Jacob Abraham and Brandon Jones ’15 M’16 were recently named Keuka College’s 2016 Student Social Workers of the Year for the Genesee Valley division of the state National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
The NASW award recognizes social work students who have made significant contributions in the field, including service, social justice, dignity, integrity, and competence. Abraham received the undergraduate award, while Jones captured the graduate award. Jones earned the undergraduate award last year.
“Completing a master of social work degree (MSW) requires a great deal of sacrifice,” said Jason McKinney, assistant professor of social work, who nominated Jones. “For some, it means quitting a job. For others, extra curricular activities and interests are placed on hold. When clearing the schedule to make time for studies, volunteer activities are often the first cut from the schedule. But that is not the case for Brandon.”
He completed his senior social work practicum with the LGBTQ Center of the Finger Lakes in Geneva, and helped organize FLX Pride, an LGBTQ festival. He also began programming for a twice-monthly support group for 13-to-22-year-olds across Yates, Wayne, and Seneca Counties known as You Are Not Alone (YANA).
Abraham has also worked with the Center of the Finger Lakes, and continues his commitment to the LGBTQ population by serving as the coordinator of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center on campus. He is also a member of the Gender Education and Advocacy Council (GEAC). Its mission, in part, is to identify issues and concerns relevant to the Keuka College transgender student population. He has also advocated transitioning to gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-neutral housing.
But when Professor of Social Work Stephanie Craig first met Abraham, she said he was quiet, shy, and didn’t speak much in class.
“He is now one of the strongest champions for the transgender population on-and-off campus,” said Craig, who nominated Abraham. “Little did I know, he was on the cusp of something wonderful. He has contributed countless hours of service across campus to faculty, staff, and students including raising awareness about transgender needs and challenges, specifically focusing on young people.”
McKinney has also seen the positive impact Jones has on campus.
“An active part of the annual hunger banquet to raise awareness of poverty, Brandon has also promoted social events for Keuka College’s D.R.I.V.E. program by serving as a peer mentor,” said McKinney. “And when the flooding hit Penn Yan, he was eager to volunteer his time to help clean up.”
In addition to his consistently remarkable academic engagement, McKinney adds, Jones has continued to demonstrate his passion for the profession of social work outside of class. For example, while working multiple jobs, Jones volunteers at a local nursing home where he is completing his field placement.
As an undergraduate, Jones worked as a note taker in the Academic Success at Keuka College (ASK) office, and was an active member of the Association of Future Social Workers (AFSW), the Psychology Club, the LGBTQA+ Resource Center, PRIDE, and Peer Advocates.
Abraham and Jones have both attended the annual Equality and Justice Day gatherings in Albany. According to Craig, this trip allows students the opportunity to talk with state legislators and rally for LGBT rights. Last year, Abraham served as a co-organizer of this event for the College.
A student justice and a resident assistant, Abraham has served as a Peer Advocate, who is someone who provides a listening ear to other students.
“Peer Advocates don’t offer advice, or provide counseling—they just listen,” added Craig, who served as a Peer Advocate advisor for three years. “This skill takes some social workers years to learn. Jake was, and is, a naturally kind and gentle listener.”
Added Craig: “Wherever Jake attends graduate school, he will enrich the program and the lives of others. He certainly has had a powerful impact upon many lives at Keuka College, and I am honored to have been one of his professors. I welcome him to the profession of social work.”
To celebrate Digital Learning Day, set for Friday, March 13, Keuka College, in conjunction with the Flipped Learning Network, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the Keuka College Center for Teaching and Learning, will host a presentation fair that features technology tools and resources, and highlights the innovative ways Keuka College students and faculty use digital learning in the classroom.
Two members of the Keuka College faculty will open their classroom doors to allow members of the College community and the public to see how students are using digital learning and technology in the classroom.
Nicholas Koberstein, instructor of child and family studies, will host an open house session in conjunction with the Flipped Learning Network and a digital learning presentation; the flipped classroom open house covering adolescent development will be held in Hegeman Hall room 104 from 9-10 a.m. His digital learning presentation session, on the use of cell phones in the classroom, will be from noon-12:45 p.m. in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) conference room, located on the second floor of Keuka Business Park in Penn Yan.
“My flipped learning open house will showcase some of the ways that students set up their discussions, and the professionalism they convey while mediating the discussion,” said Koberstein. “My teaching style revolves around creating an optimal learning environment, which is when students feel like they matter, when students’ unique learning styles are acknowledged, when students’ concerns are heard, when students are able to take risks, and when students are modeled flexibility.”
Part of that flexibility—and example of how a flipped classroom could work—resulted from a lack of student motivation and poor attendance on Fridays, “so I created ‘no work Friday,’ in an attempt to motivate and revive Friday classes,” Koberstein said. “No work Friday is a student-led, student-prepared discussion-based class meant to be an open, accepting, and thrilling class meeting. Students are in control of the topic, and discussion, and the feedback on no work Friday has been excellent, and is usually students’ favorite part of class.”
Enid Bryant, assistant professor of communication studies, will be hosting a digital learning open house. Bryant will use her Understanding Digital Communication course for her digital learning open house. Her class begins at 2:30 p.m. in Lightner Library computer lab 001.
“The flipped learning classroom open house will allow members of the College and surrounding community to come into our two classrooms and learn along with the students,” said Koberstein. “We want this day to be about students’ learning styles and outcomes by showing off their digital learning skills. We want to showcase the things our students can do with technology to enhance their particular style of learning.”
Part of that learning could be a blend of a flipped classroom and a traditional classroom, such as Bryant uses for her Understanding Digital Communication class.
“Every day, we discuss topics central to media literacy, as that is the focus of the course,” said Bryant. “We use digital tools, such as social media, blogs and Moodle, to communicate outside of the classroom and share work. During my open house, we will discuss how to be critical consumers and producers of Wikipedia. My students will become Wikipedians, which is what the site calls its editors.”
According to Koberstein, more Keuka College faculty “seem to be trying the idea of a flipped classroom to get students to be self-initiated learners. Most of the work is done outside of the classroom and when we get into class, we work on projects and application of what they have learned outside the classroom. It provides room to expand what they learn inside the classroom and I think it brings students to higher levels of learning.”
So does Bryant.
“At times, it is very effective to flip a class, especially when I want to use the class time to work on production of digital projects or discussion of topics,” said Bryant.
For example, recently students in Bryant’s Understanding Digital Communication class focused on the upcoming FCC Net Neutrality debate, which she believes is crucial for young people to understand, as they are likely to be the ones most impacted by this regulation.
“On their own time, the students researched the topic, wrote blogs and tweeted about the FCC Net Neutrality vote,” she said. “We were then able to spend valuable class time clarifying what Net Neutrality really means and how it could impact them. They came to class well prepared to converse and actually debate a heavy topic because of the independent learning they did outside of the classroom.”
Denise Love, associate professor of education and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, who also teaches a flipped learning class, agrees.
“I believe the method empowers students to be responsible for their own learning, and guides them to a deeper level of a given concept,” she said, as flipped learning allows direct instruction moving from the group learning space to the individual learning space.
The resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. Digital learning can be used for professional learning opportunities for teachers and to provide personalized learning experiences for students.
Two other faculty members, Laurel Hester, assistant professor of biology, and Jason McKinney, assistant professor of social work, will also be presenting. Hester will discuss the use of Moodle, an open-source software program used by Keuka College students for their class work, from 11-11:45 a.m. in the ASAP conference room. McKinney will present “Taking it to a new level: A DIY approach to blending towards online” from 1:15-2 p.m. also in the ASAP conference room. In McKinney’s presentation, he will share work-arounds for finding efficient, flexible, and relatively easy ways for managing classes while also preparing for a future goal of blending face-to-face and online learning. By using devices and technologies comfortable for him as a starting point, McKinney has found some simple strategies to develop online lectures.
According to, Love, the idea of having a digital learning day presentation fair came out of a faculty retreat held in January.
“After the retreat, Nancy Marksbury [special assistant to the president and director of digital learning] sent a survey to find out how those in attendance felt about the retreat,” said Love. “Many people said they liked the sessions they went to, but wished they could attend more. So we wondered what we could do to keep the momentum going. I think people see digital learning simply as technology, but in all reality it is about student learning in which educators use technology as a tool to guide students to a better understanding. ”
Digital Learning Day, started in 2012, is a national celebration that features innovative ways educators are incorporating digital resources into the classroom. Digital learning strives to create student experiences that maximize the many learning opportunities available through technology. In its fourth year, this national campaign celebrates educators and the potential of technology in education for learning and teaching.
The flipped classroom open houses and participation in Digital Learning Day “is a great opportunity to see what kinds of digital learning are happening every day on the Keuka College campus,” added Bryant.
Local and regional public and private school educators, administrators, and students are invited to attend Keuka College’s flipped classroom open house and presentations. Space is limited so reservations are advised. Reservations for Koberstein’s classroom can be made online at http://goo.gl/r6jQAt. Those wishing to attend other presentations can email Dr. Love at [email protected]
For more information about the Flipped Learning Network, visit www.flippedlearning.org.
For more on Digital Learning Day, visit www.digitallearningday.org.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series of Q&As with new, full-time faculty members. Today, meet three of Keuka’s new additions.
Dr. David Pak Leon, assistant professor of political science, teaches International Relations, Political Development in Asia, and Globalization.
Last book read: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.
Favorite quote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” by George Orwell.
If you could be a fictional character, who would be and why? I can’t really think of a fictional character that I would like to be.
What makes teaching fun? It is always fun and interesting when I see students grow in knowledge throughout a semester. I enjoy lively discussions in and outside the classroom when different perspectives are presented. It is also nice when students tell me what they are learning and reading on their own, or when they bring in relevant outside materials or their own experiences that enrich our collective understanding of different issues. Seeing eager and engaged students makes teaching rewarding.
What do you do for fun? I enjoy listening to music and reading (politics, history, architecture, economics, and finance). I like browsing bookstores and antique shops, and biking.
Sunny Winstead of Burdett, N.Y., assistant professor of occupational therapy, is teaching classes in occupational therapy assessment and intervention for older adults.
Last book read: Other than a textbook? Maybe a Ruth Rendell mystery, but unfortunately it’s been awhile!
Favorite quote: You’ll never be sorry for taking the high road.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why? Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. She’s smart, inventive, and brave. Plus, I’d love to have a Time-Turner so I could be in two places at once!
What makes teaching fun? Collaborating with students and seeing their confidence grow as they move toward clinical practice.
What do you do for fun? I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, gardening, and hiking.
Dr. Jason McKinney of Penfield, assistant professor of social work, is teaching a number of classes this year, including Youth Services Delivery, Research Methods, Ethics and Diversity, and Field Practicum.
Last book read: Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, by Scott Jurek.
Favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Mahatma Gandhi
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why?:Cookie Monster. I wish I could eat junk food all day and never gain a pound!
What makes teaching fun? Students make teaching fun! I love the interactive part of teaching, such as class discussion or learning activities designed to connect theory and practice.
What do you do for fun? I play guitar, ukulele, and percussion. I run, garden, lift weights, and study Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Coming Monday: Three more Q&A profiles of new, full-time faculty members.