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Out in Front - MSPP School Psychology

Out in Front

Updates from the MSPP School Psychology Program

December 2011

MSPP Plays a Leading Role in Social-Emotional Learning

Craig Murphy, School Psychology Program faculty

As a core faculty member at MSPP and a practicing school psychologist in the Boston area, I have always worked hard to focus the educational spotlight on the social and emotional development of students. Therefore, I was thrilled when President Covino, over a year ago, asked me to be a part of a small planning team to generate momentum for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in Massachusetts public schools.

Our hard work came to fruition when MSPP hosted the SEL Leadership Conference on November 18th. Approximately twenty educational organizations, including the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), were instrumental in the planning of the conference. School districts across the state sent teams of educators. More than a dozen universities and colleges also sent representatives. The keynote address by Roger Weissberg--President and CEO of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (the nation’s leading organization for SEL)— provided the motivation and resources to accelerate the progress of this movement.

The conference was a huge success! It was clear that it helped generate a statewide movement. MSPP expects to provide leadership and to encourage student involvement with this initiative in activities such as technical assistance, professional development, consultation, and research.

SEL Conference

Although conference participation was limited and by invitation only, three MSPP students attended: Year 2 School PsyD students Dan Angell and Kate McGravey, who are working with a school-based team for their clinical services practicum, and Year 2 MA/CAGS student Erika Johnson, who is serving as a research assistant to President Covino. Erika’s account of the conference follows.

Erika Johnson, Year 2 School Psychology Program student

Attending the Social-Emotional Learning Leadership Conference both inspiring and motivating. The attendees were noteworthy professionals and advocates of the social-emotional movement in Massachusetts. The keynote speaker, Roger Weissberg, provided an in-depth background of the research being conducted at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. He also highlighted where Massachusetts stands on this front and the efforts necessary to bring the state to the next level.

Catching a glimpse of the current practices, efforts, and challenges schools face in a real-life context, complete with school principals sharing their stories, made all of the research and published studies I have read come to life. The break-out sessions provided a forum to pose the unanswered questions that SEL programming presents. The data-based decision making group discussed ways to assess student social-emotional functioning in an objective manner through various types of measures and assessing the effectiveness of programs.

While I felt overwhelmed about the prospects of implementing social-emotional programming in schools, I also feel invigorated. I am excited to find ways to bring the theory and practices to my field placements and future career opportunities. This conference was a glimpse at the direction the field of education is heading and I am excited to see how it unfolds.

In Celebration of our Master’s Degree

Alyssa Arpino, MA, Year 2 School Psychology Program student

Although we don’t complete the MA/CAGS program until June of our third year, it is a program tradition to celebrate the hard work and dedication towards our goals with a Masters Degree Awards Event early in Year 2. It is also a program tradition for the event to be planned by the degree recipients—one of many ways in which students are encouraged to assume leadership roles and engage in community-building activities.

As one of the event planners, I was able to make the day memorable and enjoyable. The event, held on Sunday, November 6th, was casual—an opportunity for family, friends, and faculty to come together and acknowledge the recipients’ accomplishments. Our event was family friendly, entertaining, and allowed us to personalize the day. We were truly given the opportunity to create an event that reflected who we are as a cohort. It included a champagne toast and luncheon, faculty and student speakers, and a slide show. The opportunity to plan our own Master’s Event is only one of many unique aspects of an education at MSPP.

Master's Degree

MSPP Cares About New Orleans (and Me)

Amanda Jones, School Psychology Program administrative assistant

As a staff member, I have had the opportunity to participate in MSPP community events and programs. I am very committed to community service and I enjoy travel and new experiences, so I was excited to participate in service trips to New Orleans through MSPP CARE (Communities Assisting Relief Efforts).

MSPP CARE is a student interest group that organizes and implements volunteer projects that provide aid and outreach to individuals and communities in need. In addition to providing hands-on relief, CARE raises funds, collects supplies, and promotes awareness for communities requiring assistance. CARE volunteers take part in a structured, team oriented immersion experience that is culturally rich and expands members’ understanding of community and self. Since 2008 the group has volunteered with a variety of organizations in the areas of construction, environment, housing and food needs, children, and the elderly.

Prior to joining MSPP I spent a few months in New Orleans with an AmeriCorps project and became attached to the people, their culture and resiliency. Last year, I co-led the MSPP trip with Counseling Psychology alum Taylor Scull, and this year I have been given the opportunity to lead the trip with 11 MSPP students from several different programs.

I am blown away by the enthusiasm and dedication of the MSPP students, even though their lives are already packed with school responsibilities. Three School Psychology Program students have participated in MSPP trips the past two years, and Year 3 MA/CAGS student, Tracy Lindquist, will travel to New Orleans for the second time this coming April.

If you have any questions about MSPP CARE, please feel free to contact me at



Updated 12/15/11

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