Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
GSSW adjunct instructor Lauren Delle recognized with University of Denver teaching award
A passion for the social work profession and a commitment to service led professional social worker Lauren Delle to join the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) adjunct faculty more than a decade ago.
This year, she received the University of Denver’s Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award recognizing excellence in teaching by an adjunct faculty member.
“The enthusiasm that the students share with me has filled my tank,” says Delle, who started out teaching in GSSW’s Four Corners MSW Program. When she moved from Durango to Denver several years ago, she began teaching in the Denver Campus MSW Program. Eager to embrace new teaching modalities, Delle was then among the first instructors in GSSW’s online MSW@Denver program.
She now is a course coordinator for the online Clinical Theories course, providing guidance to other instructors and support for lead faculty responsible for course revisions and improvements. Delle also teaches the Virtual Field Experience course and has regularly taught the Mental Health Assessment and Integrated Social Work Practice for Social Justice courses. Across all the courses she teaches, Delle says she strives to promote equity and inclusion in digital learning.
Delle’s career as a social worker and educator started as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching nutrition and gardening to women and school groups in Costa Rica. When she finished her service, Delle moved to Washington, DC, and worked in the Peace Corps Office of Special Services, serving as a liaison between families and volunteers. For example, “If a volunteer wasn’t a good match or the cultural differences were too intense, they could come to our office in Washington on their way home and debrief and receive supportive counseling,” Delle explains. “That exposed me to the supportive counseling role.” She went on to get an MSW at Arizona State University and then joined one of the nation’s first mobile acute crisis teams pairing social workers with law enforcement.
Today, Delle is a medical social worker for Denver’s St. Joseph Hospital, where she completes psychosocial assessments and provides emotional support, crisis intervention and resource coordination in the Emergency Department, with a focus on serving the homeless and geriatric populations.
“Continuing to work in practice has been what makes me a successful adjunct,” says Delle, who is a licensed clinical social worker. “I’m able to incorporate real-life scenarios and clinical situations into all of my classes.”
Along with service and social work, teaching has become a passion for Delle. “What’s been most rewarding and fulfilling has been student engagement — connecting with students, engaging students’ passion for social work and helping provide opportunities for them to become fabulous social workers,” she says. “One of my favorite results is when students become colleagues.”