National School Psychology Week: Let's Grow Together
School psychologists play a vital role within our schools by promoting the well-being and growth of students both individually and collectively. Specifically, the role of a school psychologist in Kent School District is identifying children with learning disabilities to see if they require special education services and how to support them. Kathleen Gilbert, KSD school psychologist, says, "This is especially important at the elementary level because students are young, and we know that early intervention is very powerful." According to her, the most significant difference between the roles of a school psychologist at the elementary and secondary levels would be the rotating schedules. "At the elementary (level), students remain with their classroom teacher throughout the day, so if it's a student struggling with behavior or emotion management, it's a little easier for us to provide the support the child needs throughout the day. In the secondary setting, because they're moving to a different classroom every period, it's harder to maintain that, especially with consistency."
This year, National School Psychology Week's theme, established by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), is "Let's Grow Together.” This perfectly describes how the psychologists within KSD operate. Gilbert loves this theme "because it acknowledges that no learning or growing happens in isolation. We need each other to learn, and we need healthy functioning systems to learn to grow." She also says that as a school psychologist, work is usually done in teams. "The teams we work on can be very small, specific to an individual child, or a larger building team where we're looking at building-wide systems that support learning and growing."
A perfect example is Rani Bauer-Pugmire and Quinn Middleton, two KSD school psychologists who recently received awards from the Washington State Association of School Psychologists (WSASP) for their phenomenal work with students and staff. Bauer-Pugmire received WSASP's Outstanding Advocate award for her tremendous advocacy for students and colleagues as one of KSD's co-leads for the School Psychologist workgroup. Middleton received the WSASP Best Practices Award for Social Justice in Practice. She actively mentors and promotes students of color to achieve their full potential at the high school level and beyond. Although she currently works as a preschool psychologist, she organizes and runs the Black Student Union at one of the high schools. She also works with school psychology students of color at the university level and goes above and beyond her duties in both a powerful and effective manner.
It is evident that students' success is always at the forefront of our school's psychologist's minds and reflected in their work. Gilbert said it best. "We learn, we grow together, we share information, and that's how we flourish." Thank you to all of the fantastic school psychologists within KSD for helping to fulfill our mission to "successfully prepare all students for their futures."