West Liberty University faculty member Brenda Rinkes has been named the 2014 Social Worker of the Year by the Ohio School Social Work Association (OSSWA). She was honored with a special presentation at the annual OSSWA conference held this past Friday, Feb. 28, in Columbus, Ohio.

Brenda Rinkes (right) receives her award from Nicole Stacey, Ohio School Social Work Association president.

Brenda Rinkes (right) receives her award from Nicole Stacey, Ohio School Social Work Association president.

“I’m pleased and surprised to receive the award. And I’m especially proud to be a part of the Ohio School Social Work Association. It is a great group that meets the needs of many school social workers across the state of Ohio,” she said.

A native of Bridgeport, Ohio, Rinkes, earned her undergraduate degree in social work at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio and earned her master’s from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

She joined WLU College of Liberal Arts in January 2012 as an instructor and field coordinator for the Social Work Program. Rinkes is responsible for coordinating unpaid internships for all undergraduates earning the Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree. Each undergraduate must complete 400 hours of work at a social work agency during the last semester of the program.

A licensed independent social worker, Rinkes also has 34 years experience in the field of school social worker, including 31 in the Bellaire Local School District.

Rinkes previously served as the positive behavior support team leader at Bellaire Elementary, during the time that the school improved its official status from academic emergency to academic excellence.

She also has represented OSSWA by testifying before the Health and Education Committees of the Ohio State Senate on the value of school social work.

For more information on the Social Work Program at WLU, please visit the social work program webpage or contact Program Director Dr. Sylvia Hawranick Senften at 304-336-8089 or [email protected]