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School Psychology Research Collaboration Conference: Success All Around

By Sherrie Proctor, Jamie Zibulsky, & Victoria Comerchero

The 2011 School Psychology Research Collaboration Conference (SPRCC) was held on February 20th and 21st in San Francisco, CA, prior to the National Association of School Psychologists’ (NASP) annual convention. The purpose of the SPRCC is to provide early career scholars (i.e., pretenure scholars and scholars who are within 2 years of having obtained tenure) the opportunity to interact with one another as well as with seasoned researchers, or "catalyst scholars," within the field of school psychology. The ultimate goal for the SPRCC is to encourage multisite, collaborative research projects that address issues relevant to the practice of education and school psychology.


Early career scholars. This year’s SPRCC participants included 29 early career scholars: Amy Briesch, Angela Canto, Nathan Clemons, Victoria Comerchero, Allison Dempsey, Erin Dowdy, Marlene Sotelo–Dynega, Jamie Fearrington, Erin Rotheram–Fuller, Bryn Harris, DeMarquis Hayes, David Hulac, Kwon Kyongboon, Amanda Marcotte, Melina Keller– Margulis, Sterett Mercer, Scott Methe, Amity Noltemeyer, Julia Ogg, Michelle Perfect, Eric Pierson, Sherrie Proctor, Mathew Quirk, Maria Rogers, Amy Scott, Geraldine Oades–Sese, Amanda Sullivan, Sara Whitcomb, and Jamie Zibulsky.

Catalyst scholars. In addition, seven catalyst scholars facilitated small group discussions based on their expertise and the early career scholars’ research interests. The catalyst scholars and the corresponding group each facilitated included: Craig Albers (Assessment and Intervention: Language and Culture), Rachel Brown–Chidsey (Academic/Behavioral Assessment and RTI), Ted Christ (Curriculum– Based Measurement), Randy Floyd (Cognitive Assessment and Health Issues), Russ Skiba (Multicultural Issues and Resilience), and Louise Spear–Swerling (Reading Interventions). The catalyst scholars, all of whom are prominent researchers, took time from their busy schedules to provide invaluable guidance to the early career scholars. From the moment the catalyst scholars were introduced on the first day of the SPRCC until the closing session, these accomplished professionals went above and beyond to greet and assist all of the early career scholars. Most notably, early career scholars had the unique opportunity to work with catalyst scholars in small focus groups, discussing specific details of current studies as well as exploring broader questions facing the profession. During the less structured events held during the conference, catalyst scholars took the time to eat meals and chat casually with early career scholars, creating a welcoming environment that made everyone feel at ease.

Invited panelists. Seven other seasoned scholars also participated on two panels during the conference. Past SPRCC attendees James Connell, Andrew Livanis, and David Shriberg reflected on their experiences during and after their respective SPRCCs. These scholars shared helpful suggestions for getting the most out of the conference and maintaining collaborative relationships for years to come. Through their eyes, we came to see our fellow attendees as colleagues who had the potential to help each of us more clearly articulate our own research questions and diligently pursue answers. Later in the conference, Melissa Bray, Tom Kehle, Sue Sheridan, and Chris Skinner shared invaluable tips for becoming and remaining highly productive scholars. These distinguished researchers focused on strategies for developing a research agenda, navigating the publication process, and seeking out projects that would foster individual goals. Scholars on both panels stressed the importance of collaboration with colleagues both during and after the SPRCC. This advice encouraged many positive interactions between early career scholars during the conference and will, undoubtedly, contribute to the collective success of this year’s early career scholar cohort.

Planning committee. Finally, special thanks are owed to the four dedicated individuals who served on the 2011 Conference Planning Committee: Carrie Ball, Elise Cappella, Rebecca Martinez (Chair), and Craig Rush (Cochair). The planning committee did a wonderful job organizing the conference and making sure all participants felt welcomed. At the end of the conference, Rebecca publicly passed the leadership baton on to Craig Rush, who will chair the SPRCC in 2013. Based on our experience at this year’s conference, we believe those selected to participate in SPRCC in 2013 will have a lot to look forward to, and we encourage early career scholars to be on the lookout for a formal announcement regarding applying to this conference in a later issue of Communiqué.

Success All Around

Thanks to the SPRCC sponsors, planning committee, catalyst scholars, and panel scholars, this year’s early career scholars left San Francisco feeling that 2011’s SPRCC was a success all around! This feeling of success emanated from other early career scholars, who flew home with new ideas and new friends, and from the more experienced scholars and catalyst scholars who facilitated our SPRCC experience and made us hopeful that we might join their ranks some day. Being surrounded by so many enthusiastic, insightful, and hard–working people was a powerful motivator that helped us generate and refine our own professional aspirations. We also realized early on that maintaining these positive feelings and achieving our goals could be aided by ongoing collaborative efforts between and among early career scholars, catalyst scholars, and others who attended the conference. Currently, many 2011 early career scholars from universities across the country are already engaging in collaborations independently and under the guidance of their catalyst scholars. As an SPRCC cohort, we intend to remain true to the goal of the SPRCC: to develop multisite collaborations that will lead to research addressing some of the most pressing issues in education and school psychology.

Sherrie Proctor, PhD, is an assistant professor at Queens College, New York, NY. Jamie Zibulsky, PhD, is an assistant professor in the school of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ. Victoria Comerchero, PhD, is an assistant professor of school psychology at Touro College, New York, NY.