As your new OSPA president, I plan to work diligently to continue to provide my time and energy to the continuation of the many great things that my colleagues and predecessors before me have done. For those of you who know me, you know that I work in a very collaborative manner, reaching across the professional aisles, encouraging engagement of other professionals, with the realization of the value of including many different voices. I believe that working to develop alignments with other helping professions, and increasing the cultural and professional diversity for our profession will provide a solid foundation for our association from which to expand the future value of our professional association and careers. Thus, I take into consideration the opinions of all who want to contribute no matter what their level of status is or their educational background, encouraging and hoping to attract others to work alongside us on different projects.
For me, risk taking, always putting forth my best effort, and striving to be a leader are all qualities I seek within myself and encourage among the professionals within our association. Thus, I encourage everyone to speak up, take risks, and make an effort to provide a voice (your voice) and input into your association, and work with us to help continue to shape our association into the greatest professional association that it can be.
As a school psychologist I know many of you share my own passion to make a difference in the lives of children by working proactively, seeking the opportunity to identify their needs and instill self-worth with skills in teaching and modeling ways for children to develop and believe in themselves. Thus, it is important for our profession to demand and insist that our profession include the importance of mental wellness in regards to healthy children, healthy minds, resiliency, motivation and learning. We are so much more than testing kits on wheels, and our skills and training goes well beyond psychometrics. Yes we are experts at testing, analyzing and interpreting test results as they relate to learning and academic curriculum. But our skills go well beyond this. Sometimes we are the only voice standing alongside the child amidst the barrage of harsh data driven standards, avoidant of the impact of child development, disabilities, disadvantages and validity. Increasingly our knowledge is overlooked, underestimated and more often overruled and ignored. Yet as an advocate for the child, we need to continue to insist on being heard. And as a member of a great professional association our voices are beginning to be heard at the state level in the midst of the current curriculum speed up and return to the “basics” of education (reading, math and science), and the devaluing or removal of the softer parts of knowledge, (art, music, etc.), as we begin to realize that we are pushing aside those children whose spirit and processes do not fit current methods and single style of learning.
School psychologist’s know a lot about data, measurement, fidelity, validity, reliability and scientific methods, in fact we live by them, yet we also know we are losing children who do not fit the hard core lock-step nature of the current NCLB data driven measures that is increasingly becoming abusive, misused, and according to the insightful historian, former Assistant Secretary of Education, and professor of education, Diane Ravitch, we are misusing data and going down the wrong path leading to the purposeful destruction of American public education (Ratvitch, 2011). And according to Dr. Ravitch, in her “defense of making reality”, the real lesson from Finland and other high-performing nations “is not more testing”, rather it is “that we must improve the teaching profession, so that career educators receive the respect and working conditions they need to succeed, and we must also reduce poverty (Diane Ravitch, 2012).
As school psychologist’s, we know testing, data collection and application as well as, or better than anyone in the helping field and education. We know what is valid, quality reliable data, and what is unreliable data. We have been trained and have the experience of how to apply valid and reliable data to children and their learning in a healthy and positive way for success, keenly aware of the psychological and mental health of the child along with the developmental age and chronological age expectation. We know the difference. We also know the difference of learning styles, teaching styles and cognitive processing among people (kids and adults alike). During our spring conference, one of our speakers reminded me of all that we do know as specialized highly trained scholar-practitioners who are required to know and understand the “Whole child”, the data, and how to align it all to each individualized learner and the states curriculum. The speaker at the spring conference pointed out that as school psychologists, we know more about psychology than the educators, and we know more about child development and education than the psychologists. We are a highly skilled, broadly trained group of professionals that in my opinion have been underused and underestimated regarding our knowledge, skills and potentiality. It is time for us to speak up and have our voices heard. And as your current president, I will work effortlessly to help to keep our professional association strong and in leadership roles.
Among my efforts to assist our association to continue to grow and move along smoothly, I have asked Amiee Kirsch, our past president, and Amity Noltemeyer (our president-elect), to take an active role alongside me in furthering our association. We have met on several occasions and have scheduled meetings to proactively work on behalf of our association on topics that include bullying, expansion of our membership, and address the evaluation processes of school psychologists in the professional-scholar practitioner model. As we progress, we will keep everyone informed, as well as encourage input from all.
I want to hear your voice as well. We need everyone to join those of us who are working to continue to transform our profession in leading the way in providing children with the nurturing and educational roles that we as scholar practitioners have in helping to meet the 21st century needs of our rural, urban and suburban school children. This means that as experts in our field, each of us will individually need to become more involved to develop our role as a disseminator of information, conductor of research, discoverer and integrator of new knowledge, etc. We need to present at conferences, write journal articles, and partner with our colleagues so that we as professional scholar-practitioners are respected in leadership roles that we fill. We need to lead the way in creating and developing effective mental health programs directed at meeting the learning styles and needs of school children. As school psychologists, we are the most highly trained in the mental health-education arena in the educational system, and we need to take the leadership role to continue to strive through practice and research in order that we as professionals obtain the level of authority to make positive changes in children’s lives. As leaders we need to continue to expose the hidden social injustices in education and continue to be advocates for our students and their families. We need to continue to work to change the educational community into the positive direction that it needs to be for both the academic success and mental wellness it requires for children to learn.
This spring I had the great fortune to be invited to attend the Miami University Education Psychology Colloquium Series for 2012. I listened to several teachers and their principal and school psychologist passionately discuss the successful application of the PALS-Math program interventions and how it helped their children meet the Adequate Yearly Progress and Value Added 5th Grade Ohio Achievement Assessment in math.
Math was the general theme of the Psychology Colloquium Series and I had the privilege to hear Dr. Russell Gersten, Ph.D., Director of Instructional Research Group, Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon, and the chair of the Instructional Research Group, present his findings on assisting students struggling in mathematics, using the Response to Intervention (RTI) for the elementary and middle school levels. He research lead to the conclusion that in math teachers need to move faster but cover less things. According to his research students need to focus and apply math (Focus & Coherence) and talk more about math so as to understand why they are doing it, and then apply it. One could see from his presentation the passion and interest he had in providing teachers and school psychologist insights in how the brains see and learns math. He reported on key strategies, methods and visual presentations arguing that teachers need to move away from covering a lot of math at the student level, to starting slightly below their current ability level, moving at a faster pace but covering fewer things. In other words, “fewer worksheets to more thinking”, apply a logical progression that involves understanding and meaning, using systematic visual representations and manipulative for significant student learning of math.
Both of these presentations shared their scholarly research, application and passion to find avenues to meet the NCLB measurements. But more importantly, both presentations appeared to be sending out hope in the search to finding methods to reach out and help children learn and become academically successful. This is what we do in education, we search for strengths and weakness and find methods and ways to help keep children engaged and motivated, providing them and their parents the courage to hope.
Lastly, it is my opinion that as school psychologist’s we are often in the position to lead and serve as a repository of hope for others, particularly parents and children. Whether this hope is provided individually for or students, our clients, or on a larger scale for our profession as a whole, I believe that we as a profession carry the beacon of hope to those who have no voice, or who cannot find their voice.
As I grow older, I have become keenly aware of how we have the incredible opportunity in this profession to propel others into a sense of well-being and self- actualization which can shape them and generations for years to come. And as I look across the aisles and hear the voice of other professions having the courage to spread similar words of praise and hope, I want to share with you the wonderful experience that I had listening to the scholarship presentation speech given during lunch at Miami University by Mrs. Sarah Miller in honor of her late husband Dr. Douglas R. Miller.
In honor of her late husband (Dr. Douglas R. Miller), Mrs. Miller reflected upon her husband’s intellectual history, advanced degrees, moral integrity and character, and his love for teaching. Among the many diverse scholarly activities, including earning his Ph.D. in educational psychology from Indiana University in 1970. He also received his Theological degree and became an ordained minister, where he had practiced as an assistant pastor at Irvington Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. During his tenure at Miami University, he published chapters in books, numerous articles, manuscripts, and was the senior author for the second edition textbook Educational Psychology. He was defined as “the most significant “within the Tenure and Promotion sections of the Miami University Policy and information Manual.
It is clear that although Dr. Miller could have selected any high-paying profession of his choice, he instead chose to follow the work he loved the most, applying his expertise as a teacher committed to learning. In so doing, Dr. Miller joined the Educational Psychology department faculty at Miami University. Dr. Miller was committed to teaching his students and prepared interesting and informative lessons to them. His students frequently spoke of how enjoyable and helpful his classes were.
Sadly, Dr. Miller passed away at the age or 49 in 1988, and in honor of his memory, Mrs. Miller continues his love for students by sponsoring in his name a scholarship to one special outstanding student who reflects the intellectual and scholarly abilities of her husband as well as the kindness and spiritual understanding and insight which he possessed and generously shared. It is Mrs. Miller’s heartfelt speech that moved me to the point that I asked Mrs. Miller if I could share her speech to other school psychologists.
Mrs. Miller is allowing me the honor of present her speech and her desire to continue on with the love and impact her wonderful husband had upon so many people over his short 18 years he served as a teacher and scholar. Mrs. Miller stated that many of her late husband’s students continue to serve as school psychologists and according to her, it would be a surprise for them to see how his legacy continues. So, please take a moment to read below her wonderful insightful award presentation to the audience.
- Next >>