Policy Matters Blog

The Power of Connection and Recharge

Last Monday I had the opportunity to engage in one of my favorite activities as an executive Board member of the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania (ASPP) - I was the guest of a graduate class at one of our PA School Psychology programs. The colleague who invited me to the class shared her appreciation for the energy that I bring to invigorate her passion to be an agent of change, especially when she is stuck in the daily grind. The experience is reciprocal; the energy I receive back from interacting with the students and their professors sparks the passion right back in me. Let's be honest, our jobs as school psychologists are stressful and draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. Recharge needs to happen to sustain our mission. My favorite recharge? Connection with my people and those that believe in our mission.

As we sat together in the classroom, we discussed the many ways that ASPP and NASP are advocating to address shortages in the field of school psychology, as well as increase student access to school mental health services and personnel. Advocacy can feel like a daunting word that only "certain people" can do. As I shared with the students, yes, advocacy happens at the "big" Federal and State levels, but it also happens every day in our districts and buildings. It happens through connection, sharing your story, and sharing your solutions. I noted that the students are coming into the field trained by the latest and greatest, but will hit pitfalls, as many districts are behind in how they utilize their school psychologists and address student mental wellness. To be change agents, positive connection needs to happen with administrators, leadership, and stakeholders. To quote John Lestino (professor with Terri Erbacher in said classroom), "The practitioner's voice breathes life into the story." We all have stories to share and we are all trained in finding solutions. We can all do this. We can do this even better together." During my graduate class visits, I have the opportunity to share why I love ASPP and NASP. Everything goes back to connection for me. The ASPP board is best described as an incredible "Think Tank" of school psychologists that care about our work and about each other. This makes my advocacy work even easier because I don't need to know all of the answers (I most certainly don't), I just need to make the connections with my legislators and administration and then get them the answers when I don't have them. Through these connections, all starting with one dear colleague believing in me and suggesting I should join the ASPP legislative committee over 10 years ago, blossomed a life's passion that I never envisioned for myself when I became a school psychologist 23 years ago. Now, I can't imagine my life without advocating for students. Legislators want to hear our experiences, hear our solutions, and connect with their constituents - even if you aren't of the same political affiliation. I have been incredibly fortunate to forge a very positive relationship with my Congressman through the opportunities afforded to me through the NASP Public Policy Institute's Capitol Hill Day. There is nothing like a recharge from meetings with legislators who listen to your stories, resonate with your message, and offer action to support school psychology priorities. There is no special requirement to make these connections - just taking the opportunity to reach out, set up a meeting, and have a heart-to-heart conversation with solutions in hand (provided by NASP and your state associations). I promise, once you experience that recharge you will be energized and feel your hope restored.