Time for Students to Prepare for School Psychology Awareness Week 2015
By Michael Frank
Volume 44 Issue 2
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By Michael Frank
As November approaches, school psychologists and graduate students around the nation prepare to promote and advocate for our profession and the children we serve. The theme of this year's School Psychology Awareness Week (SPAW) is Connect the Dots and THRIVE, meaning we charge ourselves with the task of connecting students to resources that can maximize their academic, social, and life skills. As usual, there are two main ways to get involved: supporting students directly, or sharing your knowledge to empower the community to help its children thrive.
Last Year's Accomplishments
Each year, students are highlighted for their efforts in helping their community and advocating for the profession. Last year, the theme was Strive, Grow, THRIVE, so we applauded programs that engaged students to improve their skills and grow as members of the community. In addition to thematic efforts, there are certain activities that many students choose to do every year. Faculty appreciation day, book or school supply drives, and presentations featuring the NASP PowerPoint introducing school psychology to undergraduate students are tried and true methods of getting involved. In the past several years, successful programs have created committees and teams to organize and implement their ideas. For this reason, we have begun recognizing groups at the annual NASP convention with SPAW and Advocacy awards. Last year, students were recognized not only for their efforts, but also their results. Two examples of the activities carried out by the award winners are described below.
University of Missouri. The students at the University of Missouri volunteered for a community foster child organization by organizing games and contests for the children to enjoy while also providing a needed respite for the busy staff. Their efforts provided information and raised awareness about careers in school psychology and the contributions of school psychologists to the children and families they serve. The program also ran a SPAW social media campaign, and provided free hot chocolate to university students on a cold day while sharing information about careers in school psychology.
California State University. In addition to faculty appreciation and spreading school psychology awareness to undergraduate students, last year's Advocacy Award winners contacted each of their school board members to underscore the importance of school psychology and encourage them to recognize local school psychologists. They also attended a school board meeting, where the board responded positively and proposed a resolution to recognize School Psychology Awareness Week, concluding with a plaque offered in honor of the school psychology program.
Striving and growing were integral parts of last year's SPAW theme, and programs around the nation showed that their efforts make a real difference in the schools and communities that they serve. Below you will find some ideas to spark your imagination and begin your planning on ways you can get involved in SPAW 2015:
- Form a committee or small group to delegate responsibilities.
- Set up information booths about school psychology at your university.
- Hand out flyers and hang posters.
- Hold a “Faculty Appreciation Day” celebration.
- Volunteer or hold fundraisers for a local organization or charity.
- Make career-focused presentations to undergraduate or high school students, using the career resources and brochures available on the NASP website.
- Deliver presentations to education majors to provide information on the role of school psychologists and ways to collaborate to enhance services to students and families.
- Volunteer for NASP's Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Ambassadors of Recruitment Initiative and use NASP's career materials to help encourage students from diverse backgrounds to consider a career in school psychology. Learn more on the NASP website (http://www.nasponline.org/resources/culturalcompetence/cld.aspx).
- Use local radio, newspaper, or university bulletins to disseminate information.
- Talk to your fellow graduate students at http://communities.nasponline.org to see what others are doing around the nation to and share your successes.
Many resources are available for download on the NASP website. Here is a brief list of what you will find by following this link: http://www.nasponline.org/communications/spaw/index.aspx.
- Connect the Dots and THRIVE! resources
- “Think Ahead: School Psychology Awareness Week” article from Communiqué
- SPAW posters
- School Climate (#ConnectTheDots initiative)
- The Gratitude Works program
- Possibilities in Action Partner program
- Student POWER Award
- An opportunity to win a prize by filling out the SPAW feedback survey
If you share your plans on the NASP Communities or Facebook page, you can help other students discover how to make a difference in their communities. After your event, sharing your success stories will help students next year as they make their plans. Finally, programs that submit remarkable success stories will be selected as this year's School Psychology Awareness Award winners, to be presented at the NASP 2016 Annual Convention in New Orleans. Of course, your involvement and advocacy do not have to stop as SPAW week comes to a close and the winners have been decided; you may find other opportunities to promote the profession throughout the school year.
Michael Frank is the graduate student editor for Student Connections, a member of NASP's Graduate Student Committee, and a school psychology doctoral student at the University of South Florida