Small Steps Change Lives


By: Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, PhD, NCSP, NASP Director, Government Relations

The first few weeks of school were always my favorite, both as a student and as a school psychologist. Students, families, and staff are energized, motivated, and excited to embrace the opportunities and tackle the challenges that may arise over the course of the school year.  As school psychologists, we are in a unique position to advocate on behalf of children and families to ensure that all chidlren thrive and overcome barriers to learning so that they can be successful in school, at home, and throughtout live.  We have the ability, and the responsibility, to be change agents for the students and families we serve. 

This responsibility can seem overwhelming, impossible even, especially during the times in the year when we feel we can barely keep out head above water.  But, in those moments, take a second to remember why you chose to become a school psychologist.  Everyone takes their own unique path to the profession, and we all have our own specific reasons for choosing school psychology. However, the common thread that holds us together is that we all want to help improve schools and help students be successful both in and out of school. The work we do every day changes the lives of the students, families, teachers, and other educators we work with.  These acts may be small, or they may be large, but they are all important.   

It is very fitting that Melissa Reeves, the 2016-2017 NASP President, chose "Small Steps Change Lives" as the theme for her presidential year.  In her President's message in this month's issue of Communique' Dr. Reeves reminds us that the values and skills of school psychologists are so greatly needed. She rightly notes that we have the tools necessary to confront difficult situations, navigate resistance, and deescalate heated moments. School psychologists, individually, and as a collective profession, don't shy away from the hard and difficult topics or conversations.  In fact, we face them head on and we lead the hard conversations because we know that our students deserve our best and the effort it takes to ensure children and youth have access to the supports they need is well worth it.

Small steps change lives, and here are just a few steps you can take to advocate for children and youth.

  • Develop a collaborative relationship with your school and district administrators and offer to be a resource to help tackle the tough problems facing your schools
  • Become a mentor to a student in need of a positive adult relationship
  • Sign up to speak at your school board meetings; share your ideas for how to improve student outcomes
  • Share NASP resources and offer assistance to teachers
  • Speak up on behalf of students when no one else will. 
  • Educate yourself about the Every Student Succeeds Act and consider changes needed in your state/district.

#SmallStepsChangeLives. As we start this new school year, think of the small steps you can take to create change for the students, schools, and communities we serve.