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2014 Convention News
Washington, DC, February 18-21

Creating Access: Collaborate, Advocate, Lead

By Kirsten D. Myers

What better place to have the 2014 NASP convention than Washington, DC, a place born out of collaboration between the northern states' Alexander Hamilton and southern states' James Madison, both signers of the United States Constitution, to represent a newly minted and unified country, the United States of America. Washington, DC, the nation's capital, represents the principles of this year's theme, Creating Access: Collaborate, Advocate, Lead.

The nation's capital, named after the first president, George Washington, is the embodiment of these three principles in many ways. Washington, DC has long been a symbol of leadership, where collaboration is needed and advocacy is practiced on a daily basis. While Congress seems to have forgotten the importance of collaboration as a body, NASP has collaborative relationships with many individual members of Congress and their staffs working together in an effort to craft legislation that is in the best interest of children, families, and schools. Our invited Keynote Speaker, Senator Al Franken, is one such partner and an outstanding champion on behalf children and school psychologists. We also see noticeably improved collaboration across certain areas of government relevant to school psychology. In particular, the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services have joined together to put forward common recommendations, programs, and funding requests related to school safety, emergency planning, and mental health services. NASP collaborates closely with allied professional organizations in advocating for policies and practices needed to improve outcomes for children and youth. We do so by finding and leading from our common ground. Collaboration is still how the real work gets accomplished here in our nation's capital. This is true everywhere else in the country as well and, as school psychologists, we are leaders in working collaboratively to develop and foster new ways to tackle problems facing our nation's educational system and our students every day in our work.

Of course, you don't need to focus on policy making to encounter the presence of leadership and the people who have collaborated and advocated for progress over time. Washington, DC is a beautiful, historically and culturally rich place with something of interest for everyone.

What other city has the feel of France as one walks by the Tidal Basin, glancing at the marble marvels of the spectacular monuments of Jefferson and Lincoln? It is home to the Washington monument, the tallest free standing marble monument, and the Kennedy Center, America's National Cultural Center for the Performing Arts. Sitting outside feeling the cool breeze off of the Potomac while sipping one's cappuccino, patriotism can be felt everywhere. Our heroes, humanitarians, and our fallen can be remembered with visits to the beautiful yet sobering Vietnam, Korean, and World War II Memorials, as well as to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.

The city, which was designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant and completed by Benjamin Banneker, a self-taught African American mathematical genius, continues to be as diverse now as it was centuries ago. From the soulful neighborhoods of Anacostia to the federalist architectural dwellings of Georgetown, one can find history and treasure throughout the city. Where else may one see the President of the United States at a hamburger joint, bump into Harrison Ford at a downtown bar, or recognize the landmarks that appear in Kerry Washington's weekly television drama, Scandal? Politics reigns supreme, and on any given day one may notice a member of Congress or the national media moving along the busy sidewalks.

Just like the city itself, our convention hotels, the Marriott Wardman Park and Omni Shoreham, have long histories of political events and celebrity sightings— you can even sit in the actual rooms where President Bill Clinton played his saxophone or Frank Sinatra sang! Nestled in the quaint and elegant neighborhood known as Woodley Park, one is just blocks away from Embassy Row and the National Zoo. In this neighborhood, one can take a jog in beautiful Rock Creek Park or a casual stroll to many of the neighborhood's unique eateries.

Most of the Smithsonian museums are just a short Metro ride away on the National Mall. There, one may have the opportunity to dive into Native American culture at the National Museum of the American Indian, study the paintings of Van Gogh at the Hirshorn Museum, or take a glimpse at fossils and life-size versions of various species of animals at the Natural History Museum. On display at that museum is an actual African elephant! Further down on the Mall is the reflecting pool where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and where, in August 2013, the 50-year anniversary of his address was commemorated with a call to action.

Interested in becoming a spy, or learning about all things covert? Then take a tour of the FBI or visit the Spy Museum. Let's not forget the Newseum, where one may trace the history of news reporting and interactively peruse news stories and events from the 16th century to the present.

Looking for ethnic food and fun? Then Adams Morgan—where cultural diversity reigns supreme—is the place to be, and it is just a short Metro ride away from the hotels. There is Ethiopian cuisine and spicy Thai or Central American fare. Evening life is spectacular there, as it is in other parts of the city. You can listen to live jazz at the newly renovated Howard Theater, known for historic acts like Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald, just around the corner from the first historically black university, Howard University.

Washington, DC is a spectacular city to accommodate amazing people who represent the field of school psychology. We welcome you, embrace you, and can't wait for you to visit during the week of February 18–21, 2014, in the spirit of collaborating, advocating, and leading. And, in the words of the late Chuck Brown— the godfather of Go-Go music, a Washington DC creation—“Bust it loose!”

Register Early and Save

NASP remains committed to making the convention as affordable as possible. With this in mind, we are continuing the discounted early registration fee that is even lower than the preconvention registration fee (which is lower than the full registration fee). Online registration opens October 1, 2013. Register by November 20, 2013, to get the lowest possible rate. Register by October 23, 2013, and also be entered to win one of six early bird registration prizes. The grand prize includes four hotel nights and a convention registration fee reimbursement. Another good reason to register early is that you must register for the convention before reserving your room at one of the two official convention hotels at the discounted convention rate. Complete information about convention and hotel registration is available online (www.nasponline.org/conventions).

Best Practice at Your Fingertips

The convention website (www.nasponline.org/conventions/2014/index.aspx) provides an excellent overview of all components of the convention, as does the Preliminary Program, which you will receive in early October. You will note that the convention program continues to offer a full slate of workshops, papers, mini-skills, symposia, and posters covering the entire spectrum of our field. More than 1,500 proposals were submitted for review, which allows for the selection of a wide array of high quality presentations centered on the convention theme, all of which are included in your convention registration.

Invited Keynote Address

The Honorable Al Franken, U.S. Senator, is a leading advocate for promoting safe schools and educational and mental health supports for at-risk students. As a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee., he has brought greater awareness to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students struggling to succeed in school. He is a strong advocate for homeless children, those in foster care, and students with disabilities. Franken is the lead sponsor or cosponsor on five Senate bills that are NASP legislative priorities. He introduced the Student Nondiscrimination Act, which received bipartisan support in the last Congress, and that would ensure students are in schools that are free from discrimination, including harassment and bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He has a unique and important perspective to share on the state of relevant legislation and policy in Congress as well as the importance of our voices in shaping the process.

Prior to his work in the Senate, Senator Franken spent 37 years as a comedic writer, radio host, and actor, including working on the television show Saturday Night Live. As a Senator, he has brought to the HELP Committee both humor and positive public policy ideas supporting education and services for children.

Advocacy Workshop and Visit to Capitol Hill

Taking advantage of being in the nation's capital, we will be offering a workshop on legislative advocacy on Tuesday, February 18, 8:30–11:30 a.m. As school psychologists, we need to be able to advocate at all levels for the policies, services, and supports that will help students be successful in school and promote our best practices. Titled Advocacy in Action: Grassroots Strategies for Effective Advocacy, the workshop will address the basic components of the legislative process, effective grassroots advocacy strategies, and key messages important to effective advocacy for school psychology. Tuesday afternoon, NASP advocacy staff and leaders will guide a trip to Capitol Hill for visits with members of the House and Senate. All convention attendees are encouraged to participate. We want every member of Congress to hear, in person, what students need to achieve their best and how school psychologists are essential to the process. This is an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate our leadership, collaborative skills, and advocacy as a profession. Further information is available online.

Document NASP- and APA-Approved Sessions

There are two ways to earn and receive documentation for NASP-approved (and APA-approved) hours at the NASP convention: (a) convention workshops (WS session codes) and (b) specially designated documented sessions (DS session codes) that meet the standards of the NASP Approved Provider System. Among others, these standards require sign-in and sign-out, clearly stated learning objectives, and a postsession evaluation in order to receive documentation. You can find a full list of the nearly 50 half- and full-day workshops online. We also will offer eight advanced documented sessions of 80 minutes in duration. Topics include: DS01: Structural Equation Modeling: An Introduction for Nonquantoids; DS02: Leading Grade-Level RTI Team Meetings; DS03: Damaging Assumptions: Avoiding Your LGBTQ, Gender, and Cultural Blind Spots; DS04: Supporting Students With Concussion: Getting School Psychologists in the Game; DS05: Distinguishing Emotional Disability and Social Maladjustment: Law Into Practice; DS06: The Ethics of Scientific Thinking: Avoiding Errors in RTI Decision Making; DS07: Single Case Design—Focus on Experimental Control, Visual Analysis, and Appropriate Statistical Analysis; and DS08: Practical Considerations for Conducting School Crisis Drills.

Special Registration for Workshops and Documented Sessions

Specific registration is required for both workshops (WS) and documented sessions (DS). Information on registration fees and session descriptions is available online. Both WS and DS sessions may be counted toward the 10-hour NASP- or APA-approved requirement for renewal of the NCSP.

NASP Online Learning Center

You can check out both workshops and documented sessions from the 2013 convention in Seattle in the NASP Online Learning Center (OLC; https://nasp.inreachce.com). Sessions in the OLC qualify for NASP-, APA-, and NBCC-approved CPD, just as they do onsite at the convention.

Kirsten D. Myers is a school psychologist in Washington, DC and is the local convention committee chair.