New Orleans, Louisiana, February 10–13
Welcome Back to New Orleans, NASP!

Volume 44 Issue 1

By Jeff Chenier & Kathy Minke

The 2016 edition of the NASP Annual Convention is returning to New Orleans, Louisiana (or NOLA, or Nawlins)! The convention will be held at the Marriott and Sheraton hotels downtown on Canal Street, easy walking distance to the French Quarter and to the streetcar that will take you to the Garden District and other historic and cultural attractions of the city. The convention theme is School Climate: #ConnectTheDots, a theme that is especially appropriate in a city whose kids and adults have needed a high level of resilience in establishing productive climate in schools.

August 2015 marked the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall just southeast of metro New Orleans. While the accompanying destruction, displacement, and despair caused by the water accompanying the storm is well documented, the resilience of both the locals and those who supported NOLA with its recovery is something that should be celebrated. The New Orleans metro area has 93% of the total number of residents back since the storm, and revenues in the city are at levels higher than they were before the storm. Along with these reasons to celebrate are concerns that directly affect schools and school psychology in New Orleans. For example, 41% of children in New Orleans live in poverty, while the national average is 23%. With research demonstrating that academic and social-emotional behaviors may be directly related to household income levels, school psychologists in New Orleans have a huge role in working with some of the highest-need youth in the city.

New Orleans is known for being at the forefront of education reform. As of the 2012-2013 school year, more than 90% of public school students in New Orleans attended charter schools, the highest percentage in the nation. Charter schools and networks in New Orleans are afforded flexibility in staffing schools and regional teams, which allows for the role of school psychologists to look much different than the school psychologist in a traditional school district. School psychologists in New Orleans serve as eligibility evaluation coordinators, special education coordinators, academic/behavior RTI coordinators, school leaders, and therapeutic program coordinators. It truly is an exciting time for school psychology in this city, as our roles are directly linked to factors that enhance school climate!

And, of course, New Orleans is an amazing place to visit even if there were not a convention. The convention will begin the day after Mardi Gras, which allows you to get here early to enjoy the sights and sounds of a vibrant time here in NOLA. Also, February in New Orleans may see high temperatures in the 70s, which will be a welcome relief from wintertime conditions in many parts of the country. Mardi Gras may be known for what happens on Bourbon Street, but it is less known that Mardi Gras is extremely family-friendly with opportunities to bring the family to parades Uptown, in the Garden District, and in Mid-City that afford an experience quite different from what happens in the Quarter that day.

Daytime activities in and around the city are limitless. The convention hotels are within walking distance of the historic French Market, which allows for sightseeing (architecture in particular), dining (one cannot come to NOLA without beignets from Cafe Du Monde), and shopping. Speaking of shopping, The Shops at Canal Place, the Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, and Magazine Street are places that locals frequent. Other activities close to the convention hotels include the Aquarium of the Americas and the National World War Two Museum. Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans also may be playing down the street one night.

Register Early and Save Big

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, 2015. Register by November 11, 2015, and save $50 off the preconvention registration rate. Plus you will be entered for a chance to win a $500 Visa gift card!

One cannot write an article geared toward selling New Orleans to visitors without mentioning the food. Attendees who consider themselves foodies know that New Orleans is home to numerous James Beard Award Winning Chefs and Restaurants. Most recently, local chef Alon Shaya was recognized. His restaurants, Domenica (check out the happy hour) and Shaya, are dining experiences you'll truly enjoy. Closer to the convention hotels, NOLA, Galatoire's, Antoine's, and Bayona all serve up a fine New Orleans dining experience; while Mother's (po-boy's) and Cochon Butcher will provide a more casual meal. An entire future article will be dedicated to eating in New Orleans, so stay tuned!

The convention program will feature more than 1,000 educational opportunities to improve your professional skills, connect with colleagues, and prepare you to improve the climate in your schools. The city offers almost limitless opportunities to indulge in great food, live music, and new experiences. We look forward to seeing you! Stay tuned to Communiqué for detailed information regarding what there is to do, see, and eat in this fabulous city.

Program Highlights

Keynote address. Janet Mock is the host of MSNBC's program, So POPular, and author of the best-selling memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, & So Much More, a book that has been described as groundbreaking, riveting, eye-opening, and compelling. She is an advocate whose work addresses issues of gender, race, and culture.

Featured sessions. Featured Sessions at the NASP convention highlight key issues facing the profession from the perspective of leaders in school psychology, related fields in education and mental health, and policy makers. This year's featured speakers address a diverse range of issues that are essential for building positive communities of learners at school. Susan M. Swearer, from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, will present this year's Distinguished Lecture on addressing and ending bullying. The Legends Address will be presented by Patti L. Harrison, University of Alabama. She will describe her journey as a practitioner, educator, and scholar, looking forward to the future of school psychology. Two sessions will address managing trauma in schools. James Garbarino, Loyola University, will discuss the need for trauma-informed schools, and Stacy Overstreet, Chris Gunther, Laura Danna, Paulette Carter, and Patrick Bell will describe a school-university-community collaboration in New Orleans demonstrating partnerships to build trauma-informed schools. Other sessions address the lives of gifted adults (Felice Kaufman); providing behavioral health supports in school, university, and hospital settings (Andria Amador, Mary Cohen, Sheila Dennery, Melissa Pearrow, and Jill Snyder); and preventing school failure (Mark Shinn, Alan Coulter, Kimberly Gibbons, Robert Pasternak, and Michelle Shinn).

Documented Nasp- and Apa-Approved Sessions

All educational sessions at the NASP convention count toward the 75 hours needed for renewal of your NCSP. For most of the sessions, attendees independently document their own attendance on the form provided in your registration packet. However, there are two ways to earn and receive formal documentation of NASP-approved (and APA-approved) hours (i.e., those 10 NCSP renewal hours that are required to be "NASP-approved"): (a) NASP 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 to receive documentation. You can find a full list of the 41 half- and full-day workshops online. We also will offer eight advanced documented sessions of 80 minutes in duration. Specific registration is required for both workshops (WS) and documented sessions (DS). Information on registration fees and session descriptions is available online.

Visit the NASP website ( for an overview of all components of the convention. All paper presentations, mini-skills, symposia, posters, practitioner conversations, featured sessions, special sessions, and most special events are included in your convention registration.

Be Part of #Connectthedots

How students learn and develop can be heavily influenced by their environment. The degree to which students feel connected, accepted, and respected in their school can affect their academic achievement and mental health in a profound way. NASP President Todd Savage has made improving school climate the focus of his term and the theme for the convention. Over the next year, NASP will be highlighting how connecting the dots among students, teachers, families, and communities with evidence-based, effective strategies can improve school climate.

We need you to help us #ConnectTheDots by sharing your stories and raising awareness via social media. Learn more at

Jeff Chenier is local arrangements cochair for the convention committee. Kathy Minke is chair of the convention committee