Now accepting nominations for 2017!

2017 SSW Award Nomination form

2017 Friend of SSW Award Nomination form


School Social Worker of the Year

Joy HofJoy Hostetler

Joy Hostetler, LISW-S 

The ways in which Joy Hostetler has impacted the field of school social work are truly too many to count. For over 10 years she has been serving Columbus City Schools as a school social worker and an agent for positive change.

Joy cares deeply about children, youth and their families. Her persistence and tenaciousness in her efforts to engage parents and guardians is unparalleled. During her time at West High School, Joy has worked tirelessly to jump start the Truancy Diversion Program with Judge Gill, dramatically increased the parent attendance rate at IAT meetings, developed sustainable PBIS initiatives that have palpably changed the school climate and culture at West, and much more! Additionally, throughout her time in the district she has started numerous parent and community engagement programs and on many committees.

Joy Hostetler is quite simply the kindest and most generous (both with her time and spirit) person I know. In the face of adversity, her dedication to and the faith she has in her community is unwavering. She is a champion for defending the rights of her students and finds injustice intolerable. She commands your attention and respect…and she has undoubtedly earned it. Empathetic, honest, loving, the consummate professional, hard-working, advocate, integrity, leadership – are but just a few of the ways I could continue to describe Joy Hostetler.

I love this quote from the great American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.” Joy Hostetler is responsible for thousands of sighs of relief and heartfelt thank you’s. She is the voice to the voiceless and believes in empowering not enabling. I am beyond blessed to call her my mentor, colleague and dear friend and cannot think of anyone who deserves this honor more.

Friend of School Social Work

Cheryl Ward

Ms. Cheryl Ward is employed by the department of Student and Family Engagement for Columbus City Schools. She was previously employed by Nationwide Children’s Hospital as Supervisor of Community Based Support.  She is admired for her clinical expertise, her witty sense of humor, and her ability to empower clinicians.

When Cheryl was hired by Columbus City Schools in 2013 she quickly adapted to the position and began to empower School Social Workers.  At the time school social workers were assigned about 10 schools each.  It wasn’t long before she was working out a plan to change the role of the school social worker in Columbus City Schools.  She spent time to get to know each supervisee, their backgrounds and areas of expertise, Cheryl respected the unique set of skills and expertise of each individual.

She also spent time getting familiar with the national school social work model for best practices and student-social worker ratios.  She empowered the Columbus School Social Workers to be confident in their skills and expertise. After one year, she managed to lift our “truancy officer” handle and change the entire structure of how the school social workers were distributed in the district so that no one had 10 schools.  Changing the role in the district was a tall order but she certainly was up to the challenge.  She started this endeavor by empowering the school social workers to “OWN YOUR CRAFT” and “Communicate with Confidence and “Act with Integrity” because “your name is your brand.”

Cheryl Ward Is a counselor by trade, but no doubt a social worker at heart. When there is a system in need of change, she is capable of creating the momentum needed to get the job done! She is a force to be reckoned with. What makers her worthy of this award is the leadership, empowerment and respect she demonstrated to school social workers not just in works but in actions.


School Social Worker of the Year

Rachel Meffe, MSSA, LISW-S

Rachel Meffe has been selected as School Social Worker of the Year 2015. Rachel has been a member of the OSSWA Board since 2010. She is the Communications Director which includes updating the website and editing and publishing the Annual Report and Newsletter. Rachel also served as a member of the Awards Committee for the past two years.

Rachel has been the school social worker for the Lake County Educational Service Center at Kennedy Academy for the past 2 ½ years, Kennedy Academy is an alternative K-12 school. Rachel is a member of the PBIS committee that created a program for Kennedy that continues to be implemented today. Last year, she wrote a grant for the Walmart Foundation to support PBIS incentives. Kennedy was granted $1500. Rachel led the staff in creating Behavior Intervention Plans for students in the program.  For the past two years, she has served as Field Instructor for graduate two interns. Rachel provided two formal trainings for the teaching staff regarding mental health symptoms, the impact on student behavior and how to de-escalate/intervene. She provides mental health and behavior management coaching for staff on a daily basis.  Rachel also participates in the State Support Team 4 PBIS Coaches Committee, SST 4 Family and Community Engagement Committee, facilitates social skills groups and intervenes in crisis situations.  In 2 ½ years, Rachel has made invaluable contributions to the field of School Social Work.

Friend of School Social Work


Sarah Andrews, MSSA, LISW-S

Sarah Andrews is the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and instructor of social work at Case Western Reserve. She is a member of the Undergraduate Education Social Work Minor Committee and serves on the Aging, Health, and Children, Youth, and Families specializations. She is academic advisor for school social work and dual programs. Sarah is passionate about her work as a grief counselor and advocate for the LGBT community. She has teaching and training experience with adolescents in middle/high school. In 1989, Sarah received the Margaret Sanger Award for Outstanding Social Services, Planned Parenthood of Stark County, and Canton, Ohio. Among her many presentations/writings is, Middle School Age Kids: What Makes Them Tick? for Cleveland’s Scholarship Program, Cleveland City Schools, 2002.

In 1991, Sarah received her MSSA degree from Case Western Reserve. Since then, her career in the field has multiplied across various populations in need of social services. Sarah is a member of NASW and OSSWA.


School Social Worker of the Year

Brenda Rinkes, MSW, LISW-S

Brenda has a Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Social Work, is a Licensed Independent Social Worker and Supervisor in the State of Ohio and a Licensed School Social Worker with the Ohio Department of Education. She has worked 34 years as a School Social Worker, including 31 years in the Bellaire Local School District, she served as the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Team Leader at Bellaire Elementary during the period of time the school improved from Academic Emergency to Academic Excellence. Brenda’s efforts in this process included: Facilitating professional development activities with building staff, wrote the script, filmed and edited Positive Behavior Support videos, created and facilitated a Parent Workbook and developed and facilitated social skills groups. Brenda is currently employed as an instructor and field coordinator for the Social Work Program at West Liberty University West Liberty, West Virginia and as a consultant with the Bellaire Local School District and the Belmont County Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Brenda has also been instrumental in helping to represent OSSWA at school board meetings in other areas of the state to help prevent the cutting of school social work positions. She has been available when needed both physically and/or by returning a thoughtful email to help assist others on the importance of having a school social worker in the public schools.

Friend of School Social Work

Kara Penniman, LISW-S

Kara has over 15 years of experience providing clinical social work services to individuals, families, and groups. She was Program Director for Ophelia’s Place in Oregon and received the 2013 Oregon Counseling Associations Human Rights Award for outstanding commitment in the areas of human rights and the advancement of human dignity. This was due to the youth-led advisory council that she facilitated, which focused on ending oppression of girls in area schools.

In 2012 Kara was featured as the Emerald Weekly’s Happening Person. Kara is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, NASW-Ohio Chapter, University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work and since her return to Ohio she has become a member of OSSWA. In addition to her commitment to the profession, Kara frequently contributes to the field through professional presentations as well as has extensive and diverse program management and evaluation experience. Since 2003 Kara has provided field instruction for 10 Social Work MSW students in school settings. Ms. Penniman’s contribution to school social work has extended beyond Ohio but also Oregon and Texas where she coordinated and delivered school social work services in 8 school districts.


School Social Worker of the Year

Jill Miller, MSSA, LSW

Jill has been a faithful member of OSSWA for over 10 years and a member of the Board for many years, recently taking over as Secretary. She is currently employed by the North Point ESC in Sandusky and serves both as the district social worker for Bellevue City Schools and counselor for Bellevue Elementary School grades 3-5. She
provides individual and group counseling, classroom guidance sessions, collaborates in IAT/IEP/MFE meetings, facilitates the District’s Red Ribbon Week, co-facilitates the District’s Safety Awareness & Prevention Program (SAPP), co-facilitates 5 th grade “Be Bully Wise” Program, collaborates with outside agencies and is the chair of the school-wide Positive Behavior Support Committee. Her dog “Ace” recently passed the TDI (Therapy Dogs International Inc) test. As a Certified Therapy Dog “Ace” is with her full time this year.

Jill is also involved in the Sandusky County Awareness Committee, Sandusky County Family and Children First Council, Sandusky County Bullying Prevention Committee, Huron County Mental Health committee and her Superintendent has nominated her to be trained and sit as a member of the Risk Assessment Team for her district, which is currently in development.

Friend of School Social Work

Dr. Maggie Jackson

Dr. Maggie Jackson has the distinction of being a pioneer in many areas of social work. She has been an instructor at CSU since 1970 and a former Field Instructor and Faculty Advisor for CWRU. From 2000-2010, Dr. Jackson was Director of the School of Social Work at Cleveland State and the University of Akron. From 1998 to the present, Dr. Jackson has been a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairperson for the Africa University (SW), Zimbabwe.

Among her awards, are the 2010 Distinguished Faculty Service Award, CSU and the 2010 President’s Volunteer Award – President Barack Obama. She advocates and works tirelessly for the underserved and diverse populations.

Dr. Jackson has authored books, articles and publications. She is the founder of the Neighborhood Leadership Organization. A firm believer that young people need trained, professionals to assist them in their growth and development, Dr. Jackson’s current work is “Social Work Interventions with Diverse Families.” In June, 2013 her latest book entitled, Social Work Practices with Families: the Four R Model, will be published and available for purchase. Dr. Jackson has always advocated for children. Her motto is “If we don’t make a way for children today there will be no future for anyone.” Dr. Maggie Jackson is truly a friend of School Social Work.


School Social Worker of the Year

Teri Kinsway, MSW, LISW

Teri Kinsway, MSW, LISW served 5 years as a school social worker for the Columbus Public School system from 02 -07.   She first served as a direct service provider of school social work services for the School Readiness Resource Centers. She was then promoted to serve as the program’s Coordinator. In these roles, she was responsible for developing behavior incentive programs PBS, parent-family-engagement, a parent education component as well as community partnerships. She also conducted groups and provided school based case management and crisis intervention services. She managed the budget, tracked TANF grant monies and supervised staff.

She is described by her former supervisor, Nancy Rini, as “…extremely professional and well thought of. She was pivotal in bringing REAL school social work services to the families of Columbus Public Schools.”

Teri currently works in the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University as a Field Education Coordinator. In this role she supervises school social work interns and collaborates with community partners to provide high quality learning opportunities for those interns. She supervises social workers for independent licensure, advises and mentors college students on school social work career issues, coordinates and conducts school social work field seminars with community speakers, leads committees on culture shaping and career planning and provides leadership to community instructors on current coursework.   In addition to coordinating, she also teaches classes on individual engagement and assessment, social work values/ethical problem solving, interventions with organizations and communities.

She has also served as Adjunct Facility for Capital University from 02 – 07 teaching Human Behavior and Environment and Pre-professional Development classes.

Her dedication to OSSWA is evident serving 2 years as President Elect, 2 years as President and 4 years as Central Region Chair. She is a member of NASW School Social Work Specialty Practice Section (2004 – present) and has also served as NASW Region 5 Director, as well as served on other various NASW committees.

Teri has received the Customer Service Award for Children’s Hospital in 2000 and the Excellence in Community Leadership Award from National Call to Action in 2003.

Teri has a total of 31 years providing social work services to the Central Ohio community.

Friend of School Social Work

Dr. Jeffrey Johnston

Dr. Jeffrey Johnston is the Director of Student Services for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, an inner ring suburb of Cleveland with a population of 6,000 students. The district provides services to students in seven elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school with four small schools and the Freshman Experience, an early childhood learning center and a school for students with emotional needs.

Dr. Johnston demonstrates an understanding of and commitment to maintaining and expanding school social work services in the district. He has long been known for developing innovative programming to meet the needs of all students with the support of school social workers.

Dr. Johnston thinks strategically regarding utilizing staff to address the needs of all students. He places the districts’ twelve school social workers in strategic positions to ensure that the needs of at risk students and service gaps are addressed.

These services include direct school social worker services in all buildings, a district wide attendance program, a school for children with emotional issues located at the Bellefaire Campus, and the district Options Campus.

Dr. Johnston is a great supporter of school social workers and we highly recommend him as the 2012 Friend of School Social Workers.


School Social Worker of the Year

Gwendolyn Howard

Gwendolyn Howard has been awarded the 2011 Ohio School Social Worker of the Year Award by the Ohio School Social Work Association (OSSWA). She will be recognized at an awards luncheon during the OSSWA Spring Workshop on May 20, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.

Mrs. Howard has worked as a school social worker since 2005 and is currently employed as a school social worker at St. Martin de Porres High School. She is described by a colleague as “the moral and spiritual guiding force for our students.” Mrs. Howard has organized valuable programs at the high school such as the “Jewels and Gents” social skills program. The program works to build a brotherhood and sisterhood of compassion and caring by reaching out to underclassmen and pairing them with older, experienced, successful students who serve as positive role models. Mrs. Howard also organizes community outreach experiences and service learning projects with students. Such experiences have included arranging for her female students to visit the statehouse to converse with State Senator Shirley Smith and organizing opportunities for her male students to tutor
elementary students at an afterschool program.

Mrs. Howard runs a grief and loss group to support bereaved students as well as provide other supports to students to assist in academic and social success.

Mrs. Howard has supported her colleagues throughout the state by serving as the Northeast Regional Director for OSSWA, providing presentations at state and regional conferences and contributing to a publication designed to provide tools to others in the helping profession learning to lead groups. She supports her community through religious ministry and serves as Director of Mental Health for the United Missionary Baptist State Convention of Ohio.

Friend of School Social Work

Dr. Edward McKinney

Dr. Edward McKinney of Cleveland State University, has been awarded the 2011 Friend of School Social Work Award by the Ohio School Social Work Association (OSSWA.) He will be recognized at an awards luncheon during the OSSWA Spring Workshop on May 20, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. McKinney is a licensed independent social worker who has devoted much time and energy to the School Social Work profession through his role in the classroom as well as through advocacy in the community. He is an active member of several national organizations such as March Against Poverty and Stop Targeting Ohio’s Poor (STOP.) He has been on sabbatical in Africa many times and is the founder of several African schools.

Dr. McKinney has embraced and supported the local Northeast region activities of OSSWA as well as collaborating with OSSWA to develop a new curriculum for the program of School Social Work at Cleveland State University.


School Social Worker of the Year

Demitra Turner

Demitra has practiced at both the Cleveland Heights-University Heights (CHUH) and Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). At CHUH, she was instrumental in expanding the attendance program in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court (CCJC) and Department of Children and Family Services as the result of a Safe Schools Healthy Students Grant. At CMSD, Demitra has been an invaluable member of the department of only fourteen school social workers serving over 50,000 students, staff and families. She is an invaluable member of the CMSD crisis response team that last year responded to over 450 crisis calls.

Friend of School Social Work

Marianne Derr

Marianne is a licensed independent social worker who has worked in the field of recovery treatment and prevention for many years. Marianne worked diligently with several school districts in Delaware County to establish an AOD prevention and intervention program in the elementary schools. The program she helped to establish is family focused and in my experience with Marianne’s influence and clinical skill as a result she has helped numerous families in Delaware County.


School Social Worker of the Year

Nicole Stacey

Nicole Stacey is the Director of Counseling Services at St. Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, Ohio. St. Martin de Porres High School has been recognized for their outstanding school climate. Mrs. Stacey’s co-workers believe this positive school climate is due to the success of the high-quality school social work services that are provided in the school. Last year was the year the first class graduated from St. Martin de Porres High School. The school had a 100% graduation rate and 100% of the graduating students were accepted to college. Mrs. Stacey is credited with developing the counseling department in this school from scratch. She is also seen as a wonderful mentor, supervisor and role-model to aspiring school social workers.

Friend of School Social Work

Ellen Abraham

Ms. Abraham has been chosen as friend of school social work based on her dedication toward students and families and the education she has provided to those in her community. Ms. Abraham chairs the Northeast Action Network for School Success (OMHNSS). She works to bring community members and schools together to promote mental health services in the schools. She has also done work in educating legislators and state officials on the many non-academic barriers to a child’s education.