Rick Newmyer, an adjunct lecturer at the USC School of Social Work, has been named Educator of the Year by the San Diego and Imperial counties region of the National Association of Social Workers-California Chapter for his work educating and training future social workers in service areas such as youth development, transition-age youth and homelessness.
Newmyer teaches in the school’s Virtual and San Diego academic centers for the Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA) concentration and lectures at several Southern California universities. He is also a frequent conference presenter and is trained in group facilitation methods, strategic planning and mediation.
He said he was surprised when he learned that he had won the award.
“I always thought I would transition to teaching at some point in my 50s or 60s because I figured I might know enough at that point in my life that I could begin to share it with up-and-coming social workers,” Newmyer said. “I feel extremely fortunate to have made that transition a decade or two earlier than planned and hope that I can pass down what I’ve learned to the next generation.”
Master of Social Work student Holly Sumner has had two classes with Newmyer and said that it is mainly because of him that she will be pursuing the COPA concentration.
“He is a great professor because he makes learning fun,” she said. “He teaches using multiple methods and makes sure the class gets involved in the learning. He doesn't just stand at the front of the room and read the slides.”
Another student who noted his engaging style is Angela Asatrian, an MSW student who has had several classes with Newmyer.
“Professor Newmyer is always finding new and interesting ways to grasp the attention of his students,” she said. “He has made me fall in love with policy.”
Along with his School of Social Work duties, which include serving as an external field instructor and faculty advisor to the Virtual Academic Center Caucus, Newmyer has his own consulting practice, where he offers strategic planning, organizational development, fundraising and training for organizations. He is also currently development director for the San Diego Student and Independent Film Foundation, a new nonprofit organization that develops and mentors up-and-coming filmmakers in San Diego.
Newmyer’s involvement in the San Diego area is how he crossed paths with Omar López, clinical assistant professor of field education at the San Diego Academic Center.
“He has been an outstanding addition to our faculty,” López said. “He is a great instructor that has gone above and beyond to help us shape the culture of our academic center. As field faculty and academic advisor, I hear nothing but great things about his teaching and engaging style from our students.”
Newmyer said that he finds many aspects of teaching fulfilling.
“I love bringing current events into the classroom to spur discussion, applying theories from the readings and helping people to understand different sides of an issue,” Newmyer said. “I love finding simple ways to communicate difficult concepts. And I love creating an environment where students feel comfortable sharing their opinions and experiences.”