Out in Front
Updates from the MSPP School Psychology Program
Yes, it's Spring semester—as evidenced by Daylight Savings time, chirping birds, and March Madness. It's also a time when we glimpse the end of the school year—when continuing students line up their 2013-2014 courses and field placements, and graduating students look forward to Commencement and to careers as practicing psychologists.
MSPP Commencement will honor two extraordinary individuals: U.S Congresswoman Ladda Tammy Duckworth, and public health luminary Dr. Ronald Kessler
The MSPP Commencement Address on June 2nd at the Boston Park Plaza hotel will be delivered this year by Congresswoman Ladda Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Representative Duckworth is an American hero who survived severe combat wounds while deployed as an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq. She continues in the military as a Lt. Colonel in the Illinois National Guard. As Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Representative Duckworth committed herself to increasing programs and support for veterans transitioning into civilian life, especially, for our disabled veterans and their families. In Congress, she is setting an agenda for performance-based assignments in the military and responsible gun use. In addition to delivering MSPP's Commencement Address, Congresswoman Duckworth will be awarded MSPP's Doctor of Humane Letters Degree.
MSPP's Doctorate of Humane Letters will also be awarded to: Ronald C. Kessler, PhD, is the McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Kessler is the author of over 500 scientific publications and he has been the most widely-cited researcher in psychiatry in the world for the past ten years. Much of the current evidence for mental health diagnosis and treatment has been derived from Dr. Kessler's prolific epidemiological scholarship on the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders. He is the Principal Investigator of the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey; Co-Director of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey; and the Principal Investigator of the Harvard Medical School site for the Army STARRS which studies the risk and protective factors for suicide among Army personnel.
School Psychology Reigns in Seattle
The annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is a high point of the year—a chance to hear from leaders in the field, to network with colleagues, and to learn about cutting edge practices and resources . Although the 2013 convention was a continent away, in Seattle, MSPP made its usual strong showing. Three faculty members (June Bowman, Bruce Ecker, and Gayle Macklem) and three students (Jacki Kinsman, Kate McGravey, and Wendy Price) were on the program as presenters. Here's what MSPP faculty members had to say about this year's NASP convention:
I presented a mini-skills workshop entitled, "Collaboration with Parents: An Essential Component of the Assessment Process." The theme was involving parents from the first step of assessment—considering the reason for referral and planning assessment procedures—to the final steps of providing feedback and following up afterward. I presented a brief review of the literature on school-family partnerships and applied this information to school-based assessments. I addressed the impact of learning about a child's disability on the child's parents. All of this was viewed through the lens of assessment as a process with multiple consumers—the student, teachers, parents, and administrators.
I attended many sessions for the purpose of bringing back important information to my students. There was practical material (e.g., how to manage various aspects of getting and keeping that first job), complex professional information (e.g., best practice in the assessment of English Language Learners), and far-reaching philosophical issues (e.g., what school psychologists should be emphasizing within their roles). Armed with knowledge and ideas from some of the top scholars in the field of school psychology, I feel confident that I can expose my students to the thoughts and debates most relevant to their successful professional development.
Presenting at NASP is an important activity for both trainers and students in school psychology programs. For trainers, delving into a specific question for a NASP presentation enriches the next semester of teaching. For school psychology students, it means developing expertise in a particular area, and may inspire a research study that would help children in schools. Presenting involves learning how to deliver a message that has an effect on listeners, and offers the opportunity to observe reactions of an audience to one's presentation style. Also, presenting at the NASP convention also places students in the role of a professional with something important to share. It's a terrific feeling, and the event as a whole is great fun.
The NASP convention returns to the East Coast in 2014. As was the case when NASP came to Boston (2008) and Philadelphia (2012, MSPP will be there in force and the convention will become our classroom.
Presenters at the 2013 NASP Convention (left to right):
Gayle Macklem, Wendy Price and Bruce Ecker.
MSPP Promotes Lifelong Professional Development
Learning to be a highly skilled school psychologist is a lifelong proposition. There is only so much one can learn before entering the field, and only so prepared one can be for the challenges and surprises that greet an early career school psychologist. A further obstacle is that clinical supervision is not routinely available to the practicing school psychologist.
Both to address this need, and to fulfill the clinical supervision requirement to become a Licensed Educational Psychologist (the independent practice credential for Massachusetts school psychologists), MSPP now offers clinical supervision groups for our graduates and other practicing school psychologists.
Jacki Kinsman described her experience in pursuing ongoing professional growth. "Graduating from MSPP with my MA/CAGS in School Psychology was extremely rewarding," she noted. "What I did not know at that point was the importance and self-fulfillment of continuing my education and training past the specialist level. After working in the public school system for two years, I entered the School Psychology PsyD Program in 2012 and have not looked back since."
"In addition, I joined one of the clinical supervision groups to enable me to obtain licensure as an Educational Psychologist (LEP). Receiving supervision above and beyond what my school district provides has also proven to be an invaluable experience. Meeting each week for two hours with an expert in the field of school psychology and with colleagues like myself provides helpful support and different perspectives with regard to counseling, assessment, and school culture. Through continued educational opportunities, I have realized the true importance of expanding my knowledge base."
On March 9th, we welcomed applicants to MSPP for School Psychology Program admissions interviews. This diverse and engaging group hailed from 8 different states, including three from North Carolina. We heard afterward from many of them with appreciative comments and last-minute questions and requests, and look forward to seeing many of them at MSPP next year.