Collaborate. Advocate. Lead.
By Sally A. Baas
Sunburns are fading and fall is certainly upon us. I hope you rested and made some wonderful memories during the summer. I certainly did while reconnecting with family, enjoying warmer weather, and planning for our NASP year.
At the beginning of every academic year, it is important to remind ourselves of our vision, mission, values, and strategic priorities. NASP works to serve you and those you serve. Our NASP vision for all children and youth is for them to thrive in school, at home, and throughout life. Our mission is to empower school psychologists by advancing effective practices to improve students' learning, behavior, and mental health.
From the NASP strategic plan, our leaders have chosen three priorities for 2013–2014 to address the challenges of our dynamic profession: professional competence, professional advocacy, and leadership development. Whether we work as school psychologists, students, or related professionals, the forces at play include the diversification of our profession; the evolving technology available for communication, which influences how and when decisions are made; growing needs among our student populations; and changes in policy at the local, state, and national levels. Relevant policies can be very school focused—such as alignment with the Common Core and school safety reforms—or more broadly oriented—such as implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which will affect practice for many of us. Against this backdrop, and embedded in our three strategic priorities, is the imperative to implement uniform, high quality practice standards that reflect the breadth of our training, most clearly articulated in the NASP Practice Model.
We will use this year's theme, Creating Access … Collaborate. Advocate. Lead., to frame the priorities and energize continuous improvement of our work. We will provide practical information to help you access resources needed for your personal leadership and advocacy efforts to be more effective. We know that there is an increased expectation for immediate access to information and professional development that we hope to deliver in diverse ways to assist you in your work. Additionally, we are reviewing policies and practices to improve NASP as a national association.
Collaboration. One of NASP's strengths is our ability to collaborate with people in our field, agencies, and coalitions. We are very intent on building positive relationships, modeling at the national level how these relationships should work at the building level, and advocating for such collaboration to be included in policy. Key issues include school mental health services, school safety, and school– community partnerships. As a recent example, we developed our post-Sandy Hook framework document on school safety in collaboration with the national associations in education administration, school mental health, and school resource officers. More than 100 allied professional, education, and community organizations endorsed the document.
Advocacy. Creating access for children and youth with unique needs requires our individual and collective advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. A few of our advocacy objectives this year include:
- Maintain or increase inclusion of school psychologists as service providers in legislation, regulations, and procedures (federal, state, and local levels)
- Promote awareness of and support for the NASP Practice Model
- Increase awareness of the value of professional supervision for school psychologists
- Increase the number of school psychologists and graduate students trained in advocacy skills
- Promote equal access to learning and mental health services for all children and youth
Leadership. Leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner recommend in The Leadership Challenge (2012) that we enable others to act by fostering collaboration and strengthening others through professional development, modeling, and mentoring. NASP very much lives by this model by encouraging and recognizing the contributions, values, and victories of our members and colleague organizations. Throughout the year, in this column, I will highlight your stories of creating access for students with diverse needs through collaboration, advocacy, and leadership.
We plan to highlight realistic ways in which each of us can enhance our work and the settings within which we do it in order to better serve our students. Contributions small and large are important. Marian Wright Edelman challenges us, “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” I look forward to working with you in the coming year as we strive together to create access for students with diverse needs.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey–Bass.