AUSTIN, Texas – Kate Amerson, an alumna of The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs, has received the Texas Field Instructor of the Year Award.
The award, sponsored by the Texas Field Educators’ Consortium (TFEC), was presented at the recent NASW/Texas State Conference in Houston. The award is granted annually by TFEC whose membership consists of field program faculty at 54 schools of social work statewide.
Amerson, a social work intern specialist with the Austin Independent School District (AISD), has been a field instructor for the UT-Austin School of Social Work for 16 years and has supervised at least 62 interns. During that time, she has proven herself a strong educator and leader, consistently prioritizing student learning and coordinating social work services across campuses.
Since 2009, she has worked diligently to develop an effective collaboration involving the School of Social Work Office of Field Education, AISD, and CapCityKids, a private nonprofit, to provide schoolchildren who are experiencing social and emotional difficulties at school with support and services to overcome obstacles and succeed.
CapCityKids has given grants to AISD for pilot programs aimed at discovering and implementing effective practices and procedures to minimize the problems that homeless students face. In the 2009-2010 school year, CapCityKids provided funding to AISD to hire Amerson and establish the Social Work Internship Program through Project HELP. Since its inception, Amerson has supervised 8 to 11 interns each year who have provided services to more than 1,500 AISD students and their families.
The Social Work Internship Program is a collaboration between two AISD departments: the Department of Family, School and Community Education, which includes Project HELP (Homeless Education and Learning Program), and the Department of Student Support Services. Project HELP assists students in temporary living situations due to crisis and/or economic hardship, to enroll, participate and succeed in school by providing basic needs and academic services as well as linking students and their families to key AISD and local community support services.
“The number of children who are homeless or at real risk of being homeless has gone up as the economy has gone down,” said Tanya Voss, assistant dean for field education at the School of Social Work. “CapCityKids has invested in those families by supporting a school-based unit of interns from the School of Social Work to provide services and a safety net at several AISD campuses.”
Amerson, as the social work intern specialist, oversees a unit of 10 or more social work student interns who are completing their first field or final field internships in the master’s degree program. She provides educational supervision, training and enrichment for School of Social Work interns.
“Kate Amerson has been an exemplary field instructor for the School of Social Work since 1996. For the past three years, she has done an amazing job leading the Social Work Internship Program through Project Help and making everything work for the kids and our interns,” said Voss, who nominated Amerson for the TFEC award on behalf of the School of Social Work clinical faculty.
TFEC established the statewide Field Instructor of the Year Award in 1997, to recognize excellence among agency-based field instructors involved in social work education.