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Waltham School Psychologist, Michael Shaps, Named Boston Red Sox Outstanding Educator of the Year

Recognition of school psychologists’ important contributions to students’ academic and life success is growing, and in many different venues. Just ask Michael Shaps, who was honored by the Boston Red Sox at a recent game as their Outstanding Educator of the Year.

The Red Sox honor educators every year and, as part of that effort, select an Outstanding Educator to be recognized on the field before a home game. “Michael was the clear choice,” says Ron Bumgarner, Red Sox Senior Vice President/Ticketing and Fenway Enterprises. “Of all the educators nominated from across the state, he received by far the greatest number of letters of support.”

Michael is a school psychologist with Waltham Public Schools just outside of Boston. Waltham serves approximately 5,000 students and consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. It is a diverse community whose population represents a wide variety of ethnic groups, languages, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Michael is a tireless advocate on behalf of students,” says Paula Alexander, Assistant Director of Special Education for the district. “He is resourceful, motivated, and always stays positive.” He is noted by his colleagues as being collaborative, terrific with parents, and able to put students at ease so that he can get to know them.

After 19 years as a school psychology practitioner, Michael firmly believes that school psychologists are more than “just testers” and that “our experiences and knowledge can be utilized anywhere in the district, in any form that is required.” He frames his work with the conviction that everyone needs to look at the whole child. His job, as he describes it, “is to help school and family understand the student as both a learner and a child so that adults can change the way they approach him or her instead of trying to change the student.”

“Michael is dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families,” notes Waltham High School Principal Gregory DeMeo. “Because of what he calls ‘their great potential for growth and development,’ [Michael] particularly enjoys working with special needs children with learning differences, children on the autism spectrum, and children with behavioral and emotional disorders.” 

In addition to conducting comprehensive assessments, Michael has experience with classroom interventions, counseling (group and individual), response to intervention, consultation, risk assessments, functional behavior assessments, developing positive behavior intervention plans, running social skills and study skills groups, and intern supervision.

Michael shares his passion for helping students thrive with colleagues through his collaborative and leadership efforts and a commitment to “always be learning and changing.”  He reaches out to other districts around country to learn about new programs and sits on a multidistrict group through the EDCO Collaborative in Waltham, which brings together school psychologists from many districts each month to discuss current events and what is happening in the schools. Michael also is actively involved in Massachusetts School Psychologists Association, where he serves on the ethics committee.

“Michael is always willing to go the extra mile by expanding the traditional role of the school psychologist,” adds Principal DeMeo. “He is a team player who often goes above and beyond the scope of his job for the benefit of children. Michael is an asset to the Waltham Public Schools, our students, our families, and our learning community.” 

According to the Red Sox’s Bumgarner, Paula Alexander, Assistant Director of Special Education, best summed up sentiments of those who nominated Michael. “Michael deserves to be [on the field] because, like the Red Sox, he is a champion. He fights hard for the rights of special needs students here in Waltham. He is a tireless advocate, always in the pursuit of the best possible programming for our students. Hundreds of special education students have been the beneficiaries of his time and talent. He deserves to be recognized by a world-class organization like the Red Sox for his world-class work.”

On personal note, Michael is a proud gay single father with a 15-year-old son whom he adopted at 4 months old. He has volunteered his time with the Gay Straight Alliances in all his school districts and with the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Teachers Network over the years. 

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For more information and direct inquiries contact: NASP Director of Communications Kathy Cowan

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