Michigan Educational Association recognizes SVSU professor

J. Blake Johnson, associate professor of art, recently received the Distinguished Servant of Public Education award from the Michigan Education Association (MEA).

This award honors an individual who promotes public education at any level through union activity, political action and/or community advocacy.

The award was presented at the Human Rights and Excellence Awards Luncheon at the MEA Winter Conference on Feb. 2

Johnson was recognized for his work with Cardinal Solutions, a group of students and faculty that work to develop marketing solutions for buisnesses across the region.

Johnson said he is honored to be recognized with the award.

“I’m humbled to be recognized by fellow educators for my efforts to improve student learning through community engagement,” he said. “I’m also thankful for all our community partners that have trusted us to help make a better community.”

Johnson also commended the students participating in Cardinal Solutions:

“The work that our Cardinal Solutions students complete when serving our community is truly at the professional level,” he said. “They take these responsibilities seriously, and as they do, they develop soft-skills such as problem solving, communication (both verbal and written) and teamwork.”

The skills students learn while in the group can be a major asset, according to Johnson.

“Many of our former students have found that their time serving the community has opened the door to career opportunities and even advanced job placement due to their time in Cardinal Solutions,” he said Johnson joined SVSU in 2007. He has a background in graphic design and teaches related courses.

Johnson helped form Cardinal Solutions in 2014 and serves as the director currently.

He elaborated on the work that the group has completed since its inception:

“We have designed apps, we have made math workbooks, we have supplied numerous logo and branding sets for organizations [and] we have also designed multiple websites,” he said.

He hopes that Cardinal Solutions can keep helping the community and the students that participate in it.

“I hope that Cardinal Solutions continues to grow,” he said. “This benefits our students and our communities. We welcome any interested student and faculty to contact us. Students become involved when a nonprofit or business contacts us with a request, so we cannot assign students to projects immediately. Instead, we need to align the student talents with a client project, so the timing is not always perfect.”

Johnson added that there are several ways that interested students can get involved with the group.

“Students can be involved in two ways, either by a course or a series of courses where the professor adds the client project as part of the curriculum or [by joining a] small interdisciplinary team that meets weekly with the professors and client to complete a major task within a term, or series of terms,” he said. “Those students earn a scholarship, and can choose to earn credit via an independent study.”

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