Learning and Teaching During COVID-19

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Simeon Adler

I Want To Change The World For Young People

Simeon Adler, MSW '21

  • Concentration:
    Interpersonal Practice/Management of Human Services
  • Practice Area:
    Community and Social Systems
  • Field Placements:
    Washtenaw Technical Middle College, Jewish Family Services of Metro Detroit
  • Scholarship:
    Shera Spar Dubitsky Scholarship (Jewish Communal Leadership Program)

They face huge challenges during this pandemic," he says. "They would be going through enormous transitions anyway; now, there is even more need in helping them to develop critical coping skills.

For his Masters in Social Work, Simeon (Simi) Adler came to Ann Arbor from Colorado, where he had worked in nonprofits serving adolescents and young adults. He had been out of school for ten years. Why Michigan? "The U-M School of Social Work would allow me to dive deeper into helping young people," he says. "I could minor in Management of Human Services while getting Interpersonal Practice experience and be better-rounded in micro and macro areas."

Of great importance to Simi's decision was our school's Jewish Communal Leadership Program (JCLP), led by Prof. Karla Goldman. The program runs 20 months and bestows, in addition to an MSW, a Certificate in Jewish Communal Leadership from U-M's Frankel Center for Jewish Studies.

"JCLP was a big reason why I came," Simi says. "I had worked in Jewish nonprofits. JCLP would teach me more about that world and help me think critically about the contemporary Jewish community. This is a moment of great change, of great urgency for us in terms of social and racial justice. We must ask what our community looks like post pandemic and look at who our organizations serve. Priorities in human services will not be the same, so we have a lot of planning and deliberating to do."

Simi has found that "the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti communities have an enormous amount to offer." In his time here he has worked with U-M's Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and with Telling It, a trauma-informed, resilience-building after school arts program at the Residential College. In his current field placement, which is completely virtual, he counsels students at Washtenaw Technical Middle College. It is here where he incorporates two different Michigan Medicine Depression Center programs: Peer2Peer, which helps students create mental health campaigns; and the TRAILS program, which brings evidence-based group work into local schools. "These students face huge challenges during this pandemic," he says. "They would be going through enormous transitions anyway; now, there is even more need in helping them to develop critical coping skills."

As a part of JCLP, Simi attends the school on a Shara Spar Dubitsky Scholarship. "I would not even have considered U-M without the Dubitsky Scholarship," he says. "It opened up this opportunity for me and allowed me to explore critical issues. I look forward to Karla and the JCLP seminar every week. It's virtual, but it's so good just to belong to that cohort. We examine current issues in the world and in the Jewish community from a social work perspective. Whether it's discussing frameworks around community organizing or incorporating values of social justice, they are always thought-provoking conversations. Being with Prof. Goldman and my cohort has helped me be intentional and articulate about investigating systemic challenges and what we can bring back to our organizations and communities."

Before COVID, JCLP students also did agency site visits and heard speakers from nonprofits and human service organizations. "We got to see how different Jewish communities interact around social justice issues," Simi says. "We have met with a wide array of academics and leading professionals which have led to very honest conversations around a variety of topics such as trauma, gender equity, as well as racial and economic justice."

The greatest gift Simi Adler has received here is perhaps revealed in one small word he uses over and over when describing his JCLP involvement, a word especially loved by social workers:

"We."

Why I Am Here

"The U-M School of Social Work would allow me to dive deeper into helping young people. I could minor in Management of Human Services while getting Interpersonal Practice experience. The Jewish Communal Leadership Program was also a big reason why I came."

Impact Of The Scholarship

"I could not have considered U-M without the Dubitsky Scholarship. It opened up this opportunity for me and allowed me to explore all these things."

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