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What is Your Focus? Celebrating School Psychology Awareness Week
Every year in November, school psychologists, professors, and graduate students gear up to bring awareness to the field of school psychology and highlight the work that school psychologists do to help students thrive. This year's theme was "Find Your Focus," which highlights the variety of ways in which we can identify areas of interest, seeing an idea more clearly, or being persistent and determined in our efforts. NASP's goal of finding your focus has a myriad of benefits that all lead to a mutual end goal: creating connections that will beneficial for students and their academic and social-emotional needs.
As a second-year PhD graduate student, finding my focus this year meant focusing more intently on my research and how my research can have an impact on student's lives. This meant paying more attention to my educational goals and individualizing my program of study. I have experiences in education policy and school psychology, and I thought about how I could combine those interests. I wanted to set goals that would be beneficial not only for my academic career but also for the students I aim to support. While attending the 2019 NASP Convention in Atlanta, GA, I stopped by the advocacy booth and sent letters to my local and state representatives about the mental health needs of our students and the shortage in school psychology. I walked away invigorated and determined to get more involved in advocacy. I set goals to attend the Public Policy Institute in 2020 and applied to be the next student member on NASP's Government and Professional Committee (GPR). I was fortunate to have been selected amongst other highly qualified graduate students and knew that this was the first step in being purposeful in achieving my goals.
As everyone across the country celebrated School Psychology Awareness Week, it's important to recognize the hard work that students, professionals, and professors put into bringing awareness to school psychology. Andria Amador, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Services at Boston Public Schools, attended Thrive NYC and participated as a panelist discussing the importance of mental health needs. Specifically, she discussed the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model of the Boston Public Schools and the role of school psychologists in supporting mental health. Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison set up tables to hand out flyers to undergraduates and also wrote thank you notes to field supervisors. The University of South Dakota's School Psychology Association put together a School Supply Drive and were able to fill 10 boxes of school supplies to donate to the Vermillion School District! In addition, they spoke to undergraduate students about school psychology and helped pack bags of food for families in need. Here at the University of Georgia, our graduate students participated in a career panel for undergraduate students and discussed our program the field of school psychology. We also sent thank you notes to supervisors and participated in NASP's Advocacy Action Day. Big kudos to all the graduate programs, professionals, and students who participated and did amazing things during School Psychology Awareness Week.
Members of the Government and Professional Relations Committee also got in on the fun! Members provided advocacy training to states and helped facilitate the development of a state-wide advocacy action plan to activate efforts to address mental health and learning needs of students in that state. They also sent letters of advocacy to local and state legislators. Lastly, one of our committee members, Dr. Peter Faustino, met with a New York State Senator and was presented a proclamation and had the opportunity to discuss the mental health needs of the students we serve in the state of New York.
What an amazing week of giving back to the community, increasing awareness of school psychology, and advocacy efforts that happened during School Psychology Awareness Week! I know that every state did amazing work! It is such a privilege to be part of an esteemed group of professionals so dedicated to the academic and social-emotional needs of students in our country!