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Robin Kohn's Gift for Teaching

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By Karen Guin

Students enrolled in Robin Kohn's courses this fall have some particularly impressive bragging rights: Their instructor is the state's Social Work Educator of the Year.

Kohn received this award at the annual conference of the National Association of Social Workers' Florida Chapter in June. The honor recognizes her tireless contributions to social work education during 17 years of teaching and 12 years as the undergraduate program coordinator for UCF's School of Social Work.

"She is one of those individuals who quietly does the work of 20, dedicating hours to the classroom and providing the best learning experience for students," said Mary Mann, a former student of Kohn's who is now a member of the social work faculty.

Kohn's dedication is apparent in all aspects of her work. She frequently uses innovative approaches to help students learn about themselves and different client populations. She also is known for presenting exceptionally well-prepared lectures.

Former student Eileen Stana can attest. "She thoroughly researched her course materials," recalled Stana, who earned her Bachelor of Social Work in 2008 and is now pursuing her master's degree. "They were up-to-the-moment in their statistics, research and best practices, and the best references were made available. Each class was full to the brim with information."

This semester, some 70 students will benefit from this level of preparation in two courses taught by Kohn: Micro-Level Roles and Interventions in Social Work, a core course for social work majors, and Social Work Practice with Loss and Life's Transitions, an elective she developed.

Kohn welcomes opportunities to educate students outside the classroom as well. Each spring she rallies a large contingency of UCF students for a trip to the state capital to learn about advocacy. (For the past nine years, UCF has had more students at this annual event than any other social work school in Florida.) She also serves as an adviser to the B.S.W. Student Organization, which organizes an annual holiday toy drive and other outreach activities.

All students in the B.S.W. program meet with Kohn at least once during their undergraduate career, said school Director Bonnie Yegidis. With 330 undergraduates enrolled this fall, Kohn stays very busy offering guidance to students on course work, career opportunities and life in general. Her approach is warm and caring, and she is firm when appropriate.

"Robin Kohn is beloved by her students," wrote Eileen Abel, who retired from the faculty this spring. "They look to her as a role model, mentor and 'touchstone' throughout their time in the B.S.W program."

Kohn considers her lessons on the profession's Code of Ethics to be among the most important she teaches. "Assisting students to be there for the client and not allow their own beliefs to interfere is sometimes difficult but necessary," she said. "It is up to faculty to provide them with a safe environment to accomplish this sometimes difficult task."

There's no doubt that Kohn provides this for her students - and clearly a great deal more.

(Photo by Abi Bell)

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