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From left to right: Janice Chaplin, Susan Boyd, Chris Sinding

Celebrating excellence in social work field instruction

McMaster University’s School of Social Work community recently honoured veteran Social Worker Susan Boyd with the Sheila Sammon Award for Excellence in Field Instruction at the annual Field Instructor Recognition Breakfast.

May 28, 2019

“Without field instruction social work graduates would (maybe) be theoreticians. Without you (field instructors) they wouldn’t be able to translate what the school teaches them into real life actions.” - Shelia Sammon 

McMaster University’s School of Social Work community recently honoured veteran Social Worker Susan Boyd with the Sheila Sammon Award for Excellence in Field Instruction at the annual Field Instructor Recognition Breakfast.

Boyd is a Social Worker for the City of Hamilton and is Manager of Alcohol, Drug, and Gambling Services as well as the Mental Health and Street Outreach Program. She was nominated by her students and peers for her ongoing commitment to field education in social work. 

“As a placement supervisor and mentor, Susan not only provided me with the technical and theoretical skills needed to become a researcher, but also provided guidance in directing my critical thinking towards a social justice agenda.” Says one student who nominated Boyd for the award, “As a placement supervisor, Susan laid a strong foundation that would foster my learning and development to its fullest potential.”

Boyd’s passion for social work shines through her teaching. “Susan’s passion and skills as an experienced field instructor were evident from the very beginning of our work together, demonstrated by her ability to identify challenging field experiences and readings that clearly responded to my academic and professional interests as well as my learning and development needs.”

In a climate where social workers are increasingly being asked to do more with less, the work of the more than 150 McMaster School of Social Work field instructors from more than 100 agencies is more important than ever.

“Field practice is one of the most important elements in the education of future social workers. It’s where it all comes together and students get to experience practicing in the real world in organizations and alongside service users,” says Janice Chaplin, field education co-ordinator and assistant professor at the School of Social Work. “It’s only through the passion and generosity of field instructors like Susan Boyd that students are able to test their knowledge and skills and to practise what they’ve been taught in the classroom out in the real world.” 

The Sheila Sammon Award for Excellence in Field Instruction was established in 2016 in recognition of professor Sheila Sammon’s outstanding contributions to social work practice and field education — not only at McMaster, but also at a provincial and federal level — over almost three decades.

With wisdom, skill and generosity, Sammon supported the development of generations of students, practitioners and educators, all striving toward the ethical and just practice of social work.