I Am Advocacy

By: Margaret A. Sedor, NCSP, NASP Western Region GPR Coordinator

What an incredible time in history to be a school psychologist, an educator, an advocate!  Over the past year we have experienced a tremendous amount of change in education with President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law in December 2015, replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  For the first time in national education policy, a direct link is recognized between student mental and behavioral health with overall student educational success.  ESSA identifies school psychologists as school-based mental health providers who are qualified to provide the full range of comprehensive school psychological services.

Hmm, you ask....What led to this significant change in national education policy in which explicit language is embedded regarding student mental and behavioral health?  ADVOCACY!  Over the past year, school psychologists along with allied professions and stakeholders have unified their efforts to advocate for student mental and behavioral wellness.  It takes much more than a village, it takes a collective voice!  Our voice was heard at the local, state and national level! Each day, each one of us have the ability to speak up and engage in conversation on behalf of students. 

Over the past few months, my fellow GPR colleagues have been sharing their story about the increased collective voice on the issues regarding our schools, students and their families nationwide.  One that specifically stands out to me is the blog written by Dr. Peter Faustino regarding his use of social media as a tool for advocacy.  Dr. Faustino has been instrumental in teaching many of us about the vast impact of social media to increase our voice on issues of our students, schools and families.  Well Dr. Faustino, I'm sorry you had to learn this from my first official blog but... I now have a twitter account and I'm actually using twitter on a daily basis!  Thank you for your patience, support, and advocacy.  I feel like there is a whole new world out there to create connections, collaboration and to unify our advocacy efforts in nano seconds. 

So, as each of us reflect on our New Year's Resolutions we established earlier this month, I ask you to be mindful of the work we do each day to advocate for our students, if we don't who will?  I AM ADVOCACY... What does this mean to you? What is one thing you can commit to do this year to advocate for our students? Dr. Melissa Reeves, NASP President has the theme of our NASP 2017 Convention "Small Steps Change Lives".  This is so true with each piece of advocacy we engage in, no matter how small, change lives.  We would love to hear from you! Are you planning to attend the NASP Convention next month in San Antonio?  We invite you demonstrate your advocacy by visiting the GPR booth in the exhibit hall, bring your Advocacy message board or we can provide one for you and have your picture taken. #NASPAdvocates #SmallStepsChangeLives #NASP