Power Up! It’s National School Psychology Awareness Week Nov. 13-17

Power Up! It’s National School Psychology Awareness Week Nov. 13-17

Category : CCSD

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.


School Psychologists Share Insights About Their Role During School Psychology Awareness Week

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Category : CCSD

School Psychology Awareness Week is November 14-18.  The theme is Small Steps Change Lives, which, according to the National Association of School Psychologists, highlights how taking small steps can build greater successes and develop the academic and social-emotional skills students need to promote personal achievement, growth, and resilience, as well as a sense of belonging and wellbeing.

CCSD has a team of school psychologists who are assigned to various schools by zone.  While they work largely with our Special Education population, they assist any student who needs their expertise.  In celebration of School Psychology Awareness Week, we asked CCSD School Psychologists to share some insights into their unusual school district job:

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

I really enjoy working with the students one-on-one and helping them understand the purpose of the testing we do. I explain that the testing we do helps us (the school team) to better understand how their brain works for learning. When we understand how their brain works, then we are better able to help them be successful in class.      –Hilda Ortiz, Hasty Elementary School and District-Wide Student Assessments

The most rewarding things about being a school psychologist are getting to collaborate with a variety of school staff members (speech-language pathologists, facilitators, occupational therapists, physical therapists, counselors, administrative staff, ESOL teachers, etc.) and being able to help teachers identify ways to encourage their students’ academic performance.  –Wendy Fuhrman, Teasley Middle School

The most rewarding aspect of working as a School Psychologist is the opportunity to make a difference early in the lives of students who struggle with academic problems, social issues, or controlling their emotions and/or behaviors.  I find it very rewarding to see students receive the supports needed to be successful in school and in life! Additional rewarding aspects of School Psychology are the varied tasks and ongoing challenges …..the profession is never boring!  –John Poidevant, Lead School Psychologist

The most rewarding part of my job is hearing a student say that they like school since they have received the help that they need. –Celeste Harrison, Dean Rusk MS and Sequoyah HS

What are your biggest challenges in your job?

While the time I am able to spend with children, families, and colleagues is what I find most rewarding, it can also be the most challenging aspect. Finding enough time in the day to spend with teachers and parents for consultation and problem solving, time for student observations, time for direct assessment with students, and time to attend ongoing trainings can make the work days, weeks, and months fly by as a school psychologist! — Julie Maxwell, Carmel Elementary and Boston Elementary.

Time is my biggest challenge.  Frequently, I am consulting with teachers and other school personnel on students for multiple schools and I feel it is important to listen and exchange ideas.  As the school psychologist, of course, testing is part of our role.  We complete observations.  We complete many meetings.  We have comprehensive reports, reviews, and other information that we write.  Managing time to get to all of these important roles can be difficult.  However, it is always interesting to work with teachers, staff, and parents to come up with a plan to help a student!  –Deborah Silberstein, Canton ES, Mountain Road ES, and County language proficiency screenings

What does your typical day look like?

My day is the never the same and that’s one of things I like about my job! I could either be in meetings or working with students anywhere from kindergarten to 8th grade!   –Kimberly Murray, Sixes Elementary School and Freedom Middle School

As a CCSD school psychologist, my day can vary so much, it’s hard to nail down a routine/typical day.  Just a few of the tasks I’m involved with on any given day include:  consulting with teachers and support staff to determine the best research based intervention to address a student’s area of weakness, 1-1 psychological evaluation sessions with a student, attending IEP meetings, and observations of students.   –Kim Nofi, Cherokee High School and RM Moore Elementary School

Why did school psychology appeal to you (more so than general practice)?

I changed my major about 5 times while in undergrad, always knowing that I wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure in what capacity. A professor introduced me to school psychology and I knew instantly that it was a perfect fit for me.  I enjoy working with students individually and from an education lens. It provides daily challenges that require me to think outside the box and from various perspectives. No two days are alike! Unlike most people, I really enjoy analyzing data, writing reports and organizing paperwork all in an effort to figure out how each individual student functions and then being able to apply it to their daily lives within the school setting. I always adored school when I was younger, so my mission is to try to help others have a successful and enjoyable school career despite their challenges.   –Laura Killen, Dean Rusk Middle and Holly Springs Elementary

I loved the idea of working with children on a daily basis and the variety of the tasks. Every day is always different and the kids say the greatest things!  –Lisa Palmer

Being a school psychologist appealed to me because of the diverse roles and responsibilities we have in the school setting. It is impossible to get bored or run out of things to do in this profession! Plus, children spend so much of their time in school; it is the perfect environment to help make a positive impact on their lives. –Megan Foster, Sequoyah HS and Tippens Educational Center

School Psychology appealed to me more so than general practice because of the broad scope of practice.  In private practice, psychologists tend to specialize and see children with a narrow range of problems or a specific set of disabilities.  Working in the public schools provides me the opportunity to play a small role in the academic success of children from diverse backgrounds who present with a wide-range of behavioral, emotional, and academic difficulties.  Being a school psychologist is a dynamic, intellectually stimulating job which requires flexibility and creative problem-solving.  I consult daily with parents, teachers, and administrators in an effort to prevent small concerns from turning into big problems.  The students are great, I learn new things every day, and there is never a dull moment!  –Sharyl Williams-Bandy, Clark Creek ES and Bascomb ES