November 13-17 is National School Psychology Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is “Power Up! Be A Positive Charge.” CCSD has 25 school psychologists and one lead school psychologist to assist children in the school district who are struggling with emotional or behavioral issues. Last school year, this group of CCSD professionals conducted 4,787 consultations, along with 1,138 comprehensive evaluations and 2,157 partial evaluations. School psychologists work with students to develop the academic and social-emotional skills they need to promote personal achievement, growth and resilience, as well as a sense of belonging and wellbeing.
Lead School Psychologist Sharyl Williams-Bandy notes that school psychology is a field requiring extensive education and training, and CCSD is fortunate to have a talented staff working hard to help and support students and families.
“After completing a specialist-level or doctoral-level graduate program, we have a year-long internship and must pass written examinations in order to be credentialed by the state,” she said. “School Psychologists receive extensive training in data collection and analysis, assessment, school-wide practices to promote learning, consultation and collaboration, academic and mental health interventions, research and program evaluation, and professional ethics.”
This education and training makes them uniquely qualified to provide support to students, teachers, families, other mental-health professionals, and administrators on academic and behavioral issues and to serve as advocates for children.
Several of our CCSD School Psychologists recently shared some insight into their role in the school district:
What is a typical day in your job involve?
Attending Response to Intervention and Section 504 meetings, evaluating students, consulting with teachers and other school personnel regarding students’ academic, social, emotional, and/or behavioral difficulties, and writing psychoeducational evaluations. Megan Foster
What do you wish parents/community knew or understood about your job?
That it is tough and very emotionally draining. Even though I try not to get attached, I have such a big heart for these children and often invest a lot of time and energy into their wellbeing. Laura Killen
Our job is using eligibility criteria, which is not always the same as medical criteria. I think that piece gets confusing for parents and the community. Deborah Silverstein
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I think one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is when I receive an update from a parent or see the first-hand progress that a student has made. I have been stopped at sporting events, in the grocery store, or in the school hallway by parents who are so excited to tell me about their child’s most recent accomplishment. I think we all wonder if we are making a difference in our work and fortunately in my profession, I can see the rewards on a daily basis. Sharyl Williams-Bandy
I find it rewarding to engage in problem solving with teachers or through an evaluation to help determine why a child is struggling and providing suggestions or solutions on how to best help meet the child’s needs. Kimberly Nofi
One of the most rewarding things about my role as a school psychologist is seeing students make progress towards academic, social, and behavioral goals. I enjoy seeing students take steps, sometimes small but sometimes large, to help themselves learn. While I watch a student light up when reading, when they were having difficulty only a couple of months prior, is something that I will always love to be a part of. Rebecca Smith
What I find rewarding is the collaboration and consultation that I get to have with so many other professionals because they help me figure out what areas that I need to evaluate in order to identify what students’ specific strengths and needs may be. Wendy Fuhrman
I enjoy problem solving and finding a solution for a child who is struggling. Laura Killen
The most rewarding part of this job for me is being able to see (and hopefully help) students, educators and families overcome difficulties to positively change the lives of students. Megan Foster
I really enjoy helping people – teachers, kids, and families! I think we have a limited role and it takes everyone working together. However, when that collaboration works well, it can be really powerful for all involved. Deborah Silverstein
What are the biggest challenges students struggle with today?
I am seeing many more of our students struggling with mental health issues that are impacting their daily functioning and educational progress. Kimberly Nofi
Mental health issues are on the rise, and that is affecting our students at a very young age. We need more resources in the schools and affordable options within the community. Laura Killen
I think that students are struggling more and more with social media and the advances in technology that are happening all around us. While it is making our society progressive as a whole, I think that students need more direction on how to maintain a sense of relationship with people and how to wisely manage the technological world around them. I know that this is a struggle for parents as well. As school psychologists, I think that we have the opportunity to offer guidance for students and families on how important both relationships and technology are in building the future. Wendy Fuhrman
What drew you to the field of school psychology (in general, or as opposed to general practice)?
I was drawn to this field by a passion for the children who fall through the cracks and are misunderstood. Lauren Killen
I was an undergraduate psychology major and I enjoyed all of the psychology courses that I took. My mom, who was a special education teacher, suggested that I look into school psychology, and the rest is history. I enjoy the school atmosphere and working closely with children, parents, and school staff. Rebecca Smith
School Psychology is part of the CCSD Special Education Department in the Curriculum and Instruction Division.