Request Information from the UNC School of Social Work
Make a Gift to the UNC School of Social Work
Submit a job to the UNC School of Social Work

facebook linkedin
twitter Instagram
youtube vimeo

Register for continuing education programs.

Watch Tate Talk videos online.


Outstanding in the Field: Katie Bonanno and John Hudson

John Hudson and Katie Bonanno


"Outstanding in the Field" is a monthly series spotlighting the experiences of students and their field instructors at the UNC School of Social Work.

This month, the Field Education office has selected master's student Katie Bonanno, and field instructor John Hudson of Buncombe County Department of Social Services (DSS).

Katie Bonanno is a third (final) year distance education student. She is from Morganton, attended undergrad at UNC and currently lives Asheville. She participates in the N.C. Child Welfare Collaborative and plans to begin her career at DSS after graduation. She is also pursuing the Certificate in Substance Abuse Studies.

John Hudson, MSW '97, is a supervisor at Buncombe County DSS and has been a field instructor for three years. He and Katie work with a family assessment unit.

Buncombe County DSS is the largest county DSS in Western North Carolina. John explains, “Our agency values its staff and is committed to providing people the tools they need to their job and, as such, is a progressive and enriching place to work. We also live in Asheville and have fantastic views of the mountains!”


Katie Bonanno, on her field placement at Buncombe County DSS:


How did you react when you first found out your assigned placement?

I was excited. My current field instructor, John Hudson, is the actually husband of my first field instructor, Ann-Marie McBride, a school social worker in Buncombe County. Both she and John are graduates of UNC’s School of Social Work, and both are excellent field instructors. I have been lucky that in both my field placements, I’ve felt challenged and supported, which has pushed me to grow as a social worker.

What have some of the highlights been so far?

The biggest highlight for me has been the work I do with families. I get to spend a lot of time one-on-one with families getting to know them and doing a thorough assessment of how things are going. I have the opportunity to intervene in a variety of ways to improve family functioning, which hopefully will prevent future problems.

What do you think your biggest learnings have been from this placement and from your field instructor?

My field instructor has pushed me to think critically and ask tough questions. Working in child welfare, I’ve had to have uncomfortable conversations with people about subjects they don’t necessarily want to talk about. Learning to be assertive and persistent without making people become defensive is an important skill I’m cultivating. My job is about building collaborative relationships with people toward the common goal of child safety and well-being.


John Hudson, MSW '06, on being a field instructor:


What activities have you assigned your student intern and why?

Katie started with shadowing other social workers and then made several face-to-face contacts on her own. She finished several Child Protective Services family assessments that had been initiated by other social workers. So far, this semester, she has initiated two family assessments herself. Katie proves very capable and appreciates the opportunity for new experiences.

How did you decide to become a field instructor?

I had an excellent field placement when I was in graduate school and felt that I could give back to new students and the profession by working with some great MSW students. When the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance. There is also a reflective aspect of being a field instructor that permits me the opportunity to assess on a regular basis how I can enhance my own practice.

How do you think field education fits in to an MSW program?

It is an essential part of the MSW program and allows students to assimilate classroom learning in practice. Field experiences can be shared and processed with peers and allow for more growth and learning in the classroom environment as well.

How does having student interns benefit your agency and your clients?

It gives me a pipeline to some of the best and brightest in our profession! My last MSW intern has been employed with our agency for almost two years now and is an important member of our Forensic Investigations Unit. Providing a solid educational experience for MSW interns provides the agency with fresh ideas and perspectives and allows us to continue to serve clients in the capacity in which they need.


 Posted 2/26/10

"Outstanding in the Field" is written by master's student Madeline Seltman. She is in her foundation year at the UNC School of Social Work, and her field placement is at Jewish Family Services of Durham-Chapel Hill.



Are you interested in becoming a field instructor? Do you know someone who might be interested? Please contact Rebecca Brigham, field education director, at