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Gary Lee Shaffer Award for Academic Contributions to the Field of School Social Work: 2015
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2015 Awardee:  Michael Kelly

Dr. Kelly is an Associate Professor at Loyola University in Chicago. He was nominated by Dr. Andy Frey who noted that Dr. Kelly is a leader in the school social work profession. Dr. Kelly has over thirty publications and is committed to advancing school social work through his seminal work on understanding how to embed evidence-based practices in practice. 


Teaching & Research

Dr. Kelly’s teaching and research interests are primarily in school social work. Prior to assuming a tenure track position at Loyola in 2007, Dr. Kelly served as part-time adjunct professor, where he became a member of a community of school social work scholars that continues to define, deepen and enhance school social work practice by bridging teaching, research, and practice.   

A substantial portion of Dr. Kelly’s research agenda focuses on school social work practice. The majority of his peer-reviewed work has been published in the leading school-based mental health journals (Children & Schools, School Social Work Journal, Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, Journal of School Health, and the School Mental Health Journal).

Three of his scholarly efforts that have been particularly influential to SSW practice

1.  School social work and evidence-based practice

His 2010 book, School Social Work: An Evidence-Informed Framework for Practice is widely used to train the next generation of SSWers. Dr. Kelly has sharing the content of the book in a variety of academic and practice settings, and has trained and consulted with school social workers in several states.

2.  National survey of school social workers

Prior to 2008, it had been over a decade since the most recent national survey of school social work practice. Under Michael’s leadership, national surveys were completed in 2008 and 2014. The results provide perhaps the only rigorous look at school social work practice nationally, have been distributed in state reports as well as academic outlets.

3.  Guest editing special issues of journals

Within academia, special issues of journals are an important and typically influential activity. Dr. Kelly has guest edited three special issues for peer-reviewed journals related to school social work practice. These issues have been included in two journals- Children & Schools and Advances in School Mental Health Promotion. Finally, Dr. Kelly is a guest editor for Children & Schools (2009-present), School Mental Health Journal (2009-present), and the School Social Work Journal (2008-present).


Dr. Kelly’s publications include 17 peer-reviewed articles in peer-reviewed journals, 6 invited articles or editorials in peer-reviewed journals, 13 book chapters and encyclopedia entries in academic volumes, and 3 academic books. The majority of these efforts, including 5 books written primarily of practitioners, address school social work practice.

Thank you for your dedication to the practice and research interests of
School Social Workers!

   Mike with University Colleagues Dr. Andy Fry, Dr. Michelle Alvarez & Brenda Lindsey

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