Out in Front
Updates from the MSPP School Psychology Program
The Annual "Post-Holiday Holiday Party and Mid-Year Event"óBest Ever!
Now a 6-year tradition, the MSPP School Psychology Program celebrates the holiday season with an event in late January, after end-of-semester pressures have abated and students and faculty have recovered from the frenzy of December holidays. The event—formerly, the Post-Holidays Holiday Party—has grown in liveliness and in size each year. The 2012-2013 Mid-Year Event continued this trend in fine style. The January 29th event was attended by specialist (MA/CAGS) program students from all 3 cohorts, doctoral students from all 3 cohorts, alumni from every graduating class, and faculty.
Adjunct faculty member Charles Brown opened the event with an icebreaker to foster connections among students at different levels of the program, and with alumni. Dinner was a quasi-potluck, with pizza as the main course, supplemented by student contributions from A to D: appetizers, beverages, crudité, and desserts.
The main event, organized and moderated by adjunct faculty member Ronda Goodale, featured a panel of MSPP-trained school psychologists speaking about how they promote social, emotional, and behavioral well-being in schools. Jeff Forti (class of 2011) explained that he provides mental health services for students in a Belmont elementary school through individual and group counseling and by consulting with teachers, staff, and parents. Patsy Tsang (Year 2 advanced standing School PsyD student), a five-year veteran of the Newton Public Schools, works with students and families from diverse backgrounds to deal with learning difficulties, depression and anxiety management, interpersonal relationships, and other issues. She has designed a social-emotional screening procedure so she can support students on a more preventative basis.
Panelists Kemi Akinyele, Patsy Tsang, Madeleine Everhart,
and Jason Zomick offer wisdom from the field.
The once-traditional Yankee Swap was deemed unwieldy for 50-plus participants, and replaced by bookend raffles: one for icebreaker participants, and a concluding raffle with a single "wild card" swap feature.
Click here for the full event description. Kudos to the event planning committee—Charles Brown, Ronda Goodale, Bob Lichtenstein, and Barbara Miller—for an enjoyable and successful event!
Gayle Macklem (left) wins wine,
Jake Oppenheim and Susannah Hansen (right) are content with chocolate.
Raffle winners display swag.
Public Policy Matters: MSPP Faculty Impact the Practice of School Psychology
Public policy and advocacy are of paramount importance to the field of school psychology. K-12 education has a unique and resounding effect on the stability and well-being of our nation. Not surprisingly, elected officials enact many laws about public education, for better and for worse, in an effort to get beneficial outcomes and to use resources wisely (or sparingly). As school psychologists and other educators are deeply affected by public policies. We can choose to either be passive recipients—and grumble in frustration about role restrictions, paperwork, and questionable priorities—or advocate for policies that will make for better practice, more fulfilling work, and better results for children. The MSPP faculty recognizes the importance of advocacy, and makes room for it in their professional activities and in the School Psychology Program curriculum.
Arlene Silva, Bob Lichtenstein, and Barbara Miller are among the faculty members who have taken on leadership roles. Arlene Silva has been advocate for professional advancement issues by working with the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) throughout her career. She started on this path even before earning her doctorate, as a graduate assistant in the NASP office from 2003 to 2006. Arlene current chairs the NASP Early Career Workgroup, which has been working to increase the benefits and lower the costs of NASP membership for newly minted school psychologists. Another Workgroup priority is identifying and addressing the need for supervision and mentorship in the critical early years of practice. In a former role with NASP, Arlene was instrumental in promoting training and leadership opportunities for school psychology graduate students and introducing new offerings and events for graduate students at the annual NASP Convention.
Bob Lichtenstein served on the Massachusetts Behavioral Health and Public Education Task Force, established under a 2008 state law, which worked with Department of Education staff to develop a state of the art framework to create supportive school environments for all children and to promote inter-agency collaboration in serving children with behavioral health needs. The Task Force Report and accompanying behavioral health framework and self-assessment tool can be found at www.doe.mass.edu/research/reports/0811behavioralhealth.pdf.
The next phase of this initiative is now underway in the form of proposed legislation to ensure adoption of the framework by Massachusetts public schools, and provide guidance and resources for successful implementation. This initiative has the potential to significantly expand the role of school psychologists as providers of mental health services. The Safe and Supportive Schools bill (H226/S168) is now before the Massachusetts legislature in both the House and Senate. MSPP is one of 28 organizations (at last count) to formally register its support. MSPP faculty members and students have been reaching out, as individuals, to their elected officials. These advocacy efforts have already had an impact. During the month of January, 53 legislators joined the bill's sponsors—Rep. Martha Walz and Sen. Katherine Clark –by signing on as co-sponsors of this important bill.
[Note: If you are a Massachusetts resident who hopes to one day practice as a school psychologist in Massachusetts, you can begin to influence the profession right now. Learn more about this bill and how to support it at www.massadvocates.org/legislation.php#Safeandsupportiveschools.]
Barbara Miller chairs the Legislation Committee of the Massachusetts Association of School Psychologists (MSPA). MSPA was instrumental in establishing a private practice credential in Massachusetts for school psychologists—Licensed Educational Psychologist—and has worked for third party vendor privileges for LEPs There are hopeful signs that a vendorship bill will gain traction this legislative session. Dr. Miller has also helped mobilize MSPA advocacy efforts in support of the Safe and Supportive Schools bill.