Out in Front
Updates from the MSPP School Psychology Program
Launching the School Year – Is it November Already?!
Bob Lichtenstein, Program Director
Out in Front resumes publication with this issue, now that the school year is well under way. What is involved in getting another academic year up and running says a lot about our School Psychology Program…
Summer session courses continued well into August. July and August are the busiest months for the advanced standing students in the School Psychology PsyD Program, as they work as practicing school psychologists the rest of the year. They take advanced level courses such as Clinical Interviewing, Children's Mental Health Policy and Systems, Advanced Psychoeductional Assessment, Brief Counseling in School Practice, Learning Disability Research and Practice, and Working with Multi-Stress Families.
The very next week, faculty turned attention to welcoming incoming MA/CAGS students for two days of orientation ("Fundamentals") on August 20th and 21st. Fundamentals was …well, fun and mental (haha), two packed days of getting to know one another through icebreakers and discussion, previewing the upcoming three (or more) years, getting oriented to MSPP technology other resources, and much more. We even found time to explore the path through the woods that's a stone's throw from the front door of MSPP. Year 2 students hosted a panel discussion on expectations and professional behavior in field placements and in the classroom. We didn't need the participant evaluation survey results to know it went well. Faculty member Arlene Silva recorded students' comments about how they were feeling at the end of the two days, and created the "Wordle" below.
Classes began the the last week in August. On Wednesday, August 28th, students and faculty met at my home for the annual Fall MA/CAGS Program meeting and lunch—a chance for students from different cohorts to meet, compare notes, mingle with faculty, and get program news and updates. As this day was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, I reflected on the social justice role of our students and graduates, who will help needy and challenged children and families realize the American dream. The meeting also featured plans for faculty and students to attend the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) annual convention in Washington DC (at which seven MSPP students will present papers or posters!), and awarding of prizes to the winning team in a friendly "MSPP Trivia Contest" competition. (Congratulations to Felix Pagan, Year 1; Geoff Brown, Year 2; and Gayle Macklem, faculty member!)
The Massachusetts School Psychology Trainers (MA-SPT) met at MSPP on September 6th, as we do several times a year. The main topic was final preparation for the 6th annual Field Supervision Institute, a collaborative event by the training programs to support the work of the school psychologists who supervise our students in the field. We included our students as well for the first time, since the morning workshop was on a topic of great importance to them: school-based crisis prevention and response. MSPP was (barely) able to accommodate the 150 participants. Breakout sessions in the afternoon provided the opportunity for students and for field supervisions to network and share insights about how to get the most ouf of field placements and the supervisory relationship. MSPP Alumni Maddie Everhart and Jeff Forti served on the panel that was the focus of the student breakout session.
Just two days later, we put the final touches on the application to renew NASP Program Approval for our MA/CAGS Program. Months in the making, the online application was submitted with hours to spare (two, to be exact). We look forward to receiving the feedback from NASP in January.
With the NASP application in the rear view mirror, we turned our attention to the "self-study" that is the first step in our the School Psychology PsyD Program's application for accreditation by the American Psychological Association. We are able to seek APA accreditation now that students from our first cohort of PsyD students completed the program, having received the PsyD degree in August of this year. The application involves a mult-stage process that will consume major time and effort throughout this academic year.
October 11th was the annual Fall Conference of the Massachusetts School Psychologists Association (MSPA). The theme was professional issues in school psychology, with a particular focus on systematic, outcome-based evaluation of school personnel. Rigorous, outcomes-based evaluation of K-12 educators, including school psychologist, has been introduced in most states over the past two years as a result of the federal government's Race To The Top funding program. I was one of several speakers at the Conference who addressed this topic, having worked with colleagues from NASP and from the Massachusetts School Psychologists Association (MSPA) to develop guidelines and model procedures for evaluating school psychologists. Our MSPA work group will present the Massachusetts model at the annual NASP convention in February.
Granted, we don't have a football team, but we do have own our version of Homecoming. The Year 2 MA/CAGS students received their MA degrees on the sunny Sunday afternoon of November 3rd. As is our tradition, the students planned the event themselves, and did a fabulous job! The degree recipients hosted family members, partners, friends and faculty. They surprised the faculty by giving each of us an award of sorts in recognition of personal attributes or tendencies. (I humbly accepted the Revise and Resubmit Award.) The faculty speaker was Dr. Barbara Miller (seen below, top left), recent recIpient of the MSPA Lifetime Achievement Award. Prior to joining the faculty Barbara was the featured speaker at the first such event in 2007, , when she was president of MSPA. Faculty member Bruce Ecker captured some of the action with the photos below.
And now, with the school year on firm footing, we turn our attention outward, with excited anticipation, to future students applying to our School Psychology Program. On behalf of the faculty and students, we hope to hear from you and to see you during the course of the year.