Social work professor presented with outstanding teacher award


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Haileigh Huber

Tuesday, Feb.9, Grand Valley State University held its annual Faculty Convocation. Each year GVSU faculty members are presented with awards for University excellence. All award recipients are influential members of the community for the ways they lead students and other faculty members both in and out of the classroom.

Receiving the Outstanding Teacher Award was social work professor Sally Pelon. Pelon has been an adjunct for 8 years and has taught for over 20 years. Originally, she started as an elementary education major but switched her focus to social work after working with kids. She wanted to do more for kids than just teach them.

Pelon aims to create a classroom environment that’s comfortable and welcoming. She strongly believes that students learn better when they feel safe. It’s the enthusiasm and energy that her students bring to class that makes her love teaching.

“I wanted to be involved in making their lives better,” Pelon said. “When I work with my students and watch them day to day come to know themselves is what my job is all about.”

Junior Grace Zeppi has professor Pelon this semester as well as last semester. Zeppi enjoys all of Pelon’s classes because she is an attentive and helpful professor.

Professor Pelon shares her personal experiences in the social work field with her students and is constantly trying to become the best professor she can be. Zeppi believes that teachers who care about their student’s emotional and mental health help to enhance their learning.

“She cares for all her students, she’s constantly checking on them, communicates openly, and makes herself available to any questions,” Zeppi said. “Professor Pelon is one of the kindest professors I have ever had and has made a huge impact on my education here at Grand Valley.”

Another one of Pelons admiring students, Katherine Ringlein, appreciates how professor Pelon goes the extra mile to make personal connections with her students.

“She deserves the Outstanding Teacher Award because she is exactly that, outstanding,” said Ringlein.

Professors are trained in a particular area of research and it’s their job to share their knowledge and experiences with their students to prepare them for the real world. Professor Pelon gets her students excited for their careers after college.

“She is understanding to all circumstances and pays attention to the little details,” said Ringlein.

Pelon finds creative ways to keep her students engaged in the materials they are taught and has made a lasting impact on so many. 

“(Students should) listen to themselves and follow the path that’s meaningful and important to them and to not be afraid to take chances because, without them, we stop growing,” said Pelon.