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2019 Ohio School Psychologist of the Year - Charles Archer

Remarks from Rob Kubick, Awards Committee Co-Chair:

In 1991, the OSPA Executive Board established the Ohio School Psychologist of the Year Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize one school psychologist each year who provides outstanding service delivery within the practitioner realm. It is required that at least seventy-five percent of a candidate's time be spent providing school psychological services to students, teachers, and parents, typically in a school setting. Nominees must be OSPA members and are nominated by a regional association.

The recipient of the Ohio School Psychologist of the Year Award then becomes Ohio's nominee for the National School Psychologist of the Year Award, presented by NASP at its Annual Convention.

We had two nominees this year, and we’d like to take a moment to congratulate our runner-up, Mr. Sagar Patel. Mr. Patel is a school psychologist for the Shaker Heights City Schools and was nominated by the Cleveland Association of School Psychologists (CASP). Sagar, could you please stand and be recognized by your friends and peers?

Congratulations to you on your nomination, Sagar, and thank you for all that you do in our shared profession.

After careful consideration of the nominees, this year’s recipient of the 2019 OSPA Ohio School Psychologist of the Year is Mr. Charles L. Archer.

Charles, or as we know him, “Chuck,” received his Bachelor’s in psychology and his Master’s in education and school psychology from The University of Akron. He spent his first ten years as a practitioner working in school districts in Canton and then Ashtabula. Since 1990, he has worked for the Zanesville City Schools.

In addition to the typical role of a school psychologist, Chuck also works for Zanesville in a research capacity in which he compiles, analyzes and shares data across the leadership of his school district, up to and including the superintendent. His efforts inform best practices and resource allocation in his district, with an eye toward larger societal trends in education.

Nearly 25 years ago, Chuck was recognized by the OSPA Executive Board with the F. Peter Gross Best Practices Award for his work with grief counseling and crisis intervention. Chuck served as OSPA President from 2005-06—legend has it that he distinguished himself by surviving three separate impeachment inquiries. When asked to reveal the secrets of his successful term, Chuck cited his ability to communicate a vision and purpose, his ability to rally others to a common cause, and his ability to isolate and destroy every last one of his opponents.

Chuck received some regional accolades in 2014 when he was recognized with the Outstanding Educator Award from State Support Team, Region 12. Just two years later, Chuck achieved some national renown when the National Association of School Psychologists recognized him with the Government and Professional Relations Committee Certificate of Appreciation for his legislative advocacy here in Ohio. And just two years after that, Mr. Archer was elected as the Ohio Delegate to NASP after running a scorched earth campaign with a platform to, as he put it, “Make NASP Great Again.”

For the last two years, for those of us back here in Ohio, Chuck has been our man in Washington. He is already making his voice heard and our Executive Board is grateful that he is our representative. Part of the reason for our gratitude is the method in which he solicits input from people with diverse points of view, works to build consensus, and takes positions that are rooted on common ground. Chuck, you are fair and balanced.

For the past 15 years or so, Chuck has served as our OSPA Legislative Committee Chair. Consider the political climate in which Chuck has served.
We live in a time when discussion about public policy has become so divisive that so many folks can be dismissive, or even contemptuous, of others over simple differences of opinion. Sadly, this even happens with school psychologists Chuck is the antithesis of such pettiness and embitterment. Many of us have witnessed first-hand how Chuck can represent the consensus opinion of our Association and also do justice to those who offer minority or contrary opinions.

His nominator, Linda Seekatz, detailed Chuck’s exceptional career, which now dates back nearly 40 long and wretched years. Linda noted the widespread influence that Chuck has had on a generation of practitioners who were “ground floor” subscribers to the OSPA listserv. As the Legislative Committee Chair, Chuck has used technology to provide us with legal updates, policy briefings and opportunities for advocacy. As Linda put it, Chuck “has an undeniable way of bringing humor and perspective to current issues we face in our profession.” In addition, she praised Chuck’s integrity and courage, by noting that Chuck is “always willing to speak his mind, especially when doing what is right for a child.”

In his other nomination letters, former OSPA President and current President of the Ohio Psychological Association, Dr. Erich Merkle, shared that while Chuck humorously uses the honorific title of ‘Emperor’ in his electronic communications from NASP, his actual deportment in this work is rather different. Erich noted that Chuck employs a tremendous sense of humor in sharing his singular perspective and intellectual insight. Finally, Erich shared, “there are few in our profession who passionately and masterfully weave these attributes together towards the successful execution of our Association’s shared work.”

Also included in the nomination letters, OSPA Executive Director, Mrs. Ann Brennan, shared that Chuck has been one of her most trusted advisors saying, “I have relied on his expertise in shaping OSPA’s response to state and federal legislation, as well as policy directed by state agencies.” Specific examples included participation in legislative hearings, compiling relevant data and talking points to debrief policy makers, and coordinating testimony from experts in the field. Ann concluded, “Chuck is often the voice of reason when complex issues are raised. He balances differing points of view with kindness, humor and wisdom. From my vantage point, I cannot imagine a worthier candidate for this prestigious award. Chuck has become the compassionate heart of OSPA—not only communicating the important issues to our members, but also connecting the dots on how these issues impact our students.”

It is with all of this in mind that the Executive Board of the Ohio School Psychologists Association is pleased to recognize Mr. Charles L. Archer as the 2019 Ohio School Psychologist of the Year. Congratulations, Chuck!

Remarks from Chuck Archer

I’m Chuck Archer. LATE Career professional. My motto is a riff on Survivor – I may not be able to outwit or outplay, but I can outlast.

Alex Thomas once told me that when you receive an award of some kind or special recognition, two thoughts immediately run through your head: one – I’m not worthy; and two – oh crap, now everyone will know me for the fraud that I really am. And he was right. I’ve seen previous recipients of this award and I’ve done nothing remarkable like they have. I haven’t developed a cure for Dyslexia or started a group counseling program for children exposed to persistent trauma. So I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out how I got myself into this predicament and I started thinking all the back to when I first became interested in our field.

I was a sophomore in a high school English class at Akron’s East High when I first was introduced to Psychology. High school English teachers are a different breed, aren’t they? I mean they are all passionate about something like poetry, literature, drama, or anything artsy. Mr. Shuman was passionate about why people do the things they do, or Psychology. So I thought that would be a good thing to study in college. But I didn’t hear about School Psychology until I was in my senior year as an undergraduate student, looking around for a graduate program to enter when I heard about our field. And lo and behold, my college, The University of Akron, had a School Psychology program.

So I began a love affair with our profession that has lasted through this day; and by extension, everyone who practices it, studies it, teaches it, or administrates in it. And what’s not to love? We get to work with children, some of the most awesome creatures on this planet. And all sorts of children. Granted, many of whom aren’t having the best of school experiences, but we also work with Talented and Gifted students – the whole gamut.

When I WAS an Early Career Professional, working in the Canton City Schools, I thought I was doing my best by finding all these handicapped learners and hooking them up with an IEP. But after a few years, by now I’m in the Ashtabula Area City Schools, I started noticing that the promise of Special Education was not being realized by these students. We were removing them from their same aged peers and shuffling them off to a different classroom with a difference curricula. And they weren’t graduating high school at the same rate as their peers, nor choosing post-secondary education programs at the same rate, nor entering the job market. And if they did get a job, they earned on average $4 an hour less than those who never had an IEP.

So I adjusted my thinking and thought I was doing my best work by keeping children out of Special Education; doing everything I could by way of accommodations, modifications, and even interventions to not have to label this child has a handicapped learner and provide an IEP.

This went on for some years but then we start hearing catch-phrases like ‘Working smarter, not harder’ and “Doing more with less’ which are just code words for decreases in funding and resources which hurts our most needy children more than others. So we have to access special education programming for any services for these children. By now I’m in the Zanesville City Schools and I evolved my thinking once more to believe that I’m doing my best work by keeping the adults in a child’s life from making poor decisions about this child; be those adults parents, teachers, or administrators.

But then comes the importance of Social Justice issues and this idea of implicit bias really hits home for me. Who am I to say what is a poor decision about a child, especially when I’m speaking about their parents, who have known them all their lives, or a teacher who sees them everyday. I ‘swoop in and then out’ working with a child for a relatively short amount of time. Kind of ‘judgy’, don’t you think?

So my philosophy of the role and function of a School Psychologist evolves once more into what it is today. My best work is in trying to protect (or project) a happy school experience for children, especially those who are struggling. Now I don’t have the resources or ability to make that happen for every child I work with, but I can at least make sure that for a little while, I can be a non-judgmental adult who speaks honestly to them and makes collecting data and information as fun as possible. So that when I see them again at their school in the hallway or in their classroom, they smile and ask me when I’m going to work with them again.

So there you have it. I’ve got nothing to explain why I’m OSPA’s School Psychologist of the Year. But I am extremely grateful and humbled by this recognition. I’d like to thank my family for all their love and support over the years; my work family for their encouragement and enabling me to do what I love doing; my ‘peeps’ from East Central Ohio for nominating me; the OSPA Awards Committee for choosing me; and OSPA itself for holding these conferences twice per year and maintaining our listserv. Because it is by networking and socializing here that we get questions answered, can celebrate successes, and commiserate over frustrations. And that’s critically important.

I’d like to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite movies. A science fiction movie – my favorite genre. Based upon the writings of my favorite sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov. It’s called I Robot, and it has been out for several years. It stars Will Smith and Bridget Moynahan. Early on in the movie, these stars are chasing one particular and rather unique robot. They chase it to a warehouse full of robots all looking exactly alike. There is way more than 24 robots in four equal rows of six, if you know what I mean. There must be over a thousand robots all looking alike and lined up in rows. They ask, “Where is this special robot we are looking for? Who among you is it?” And all those robots reply in unison, “One of us.”

And that’s what makes me proudest. I get to be one of us.

Thanks.