MISSOULA – The National Association of School Psychologists has designated Nov. 12-16 as National School Psychology Awareness Week and students in the University of Montana School Psychology Program will celebrate by providing a number of school- and community-based activities.
This year’s theme, “Unlock Potential. Find Your Password!,” highlights how thinking about specific skills, assets or characteristics as passwords can lead to positive growth. Throughout the week, schools across the country will be taking part in events and activities designed to generate energy and reinforce the connections that power thriving school communities.
Graduate students in UM’s School Psychology Programs in the Department of Psychology have organized a number of ways to celebrate the week by highlighting the importance of school psychologists in helping children succeed in school and in life.
“School psychologists have a critical role in supporting students’ mental health and learning,” said Anisa Goforth, director of UM’s School Psychology Programs. “Graduate students are showcasing school psychologists’ roles by doing a growth mindset and coping activity with kindergarteners at a local school. They are also doing a social-emotional learning activity with fourth-grade students at another school.”
UM graduate students also work closely with school psychologists in schools across Montana as part of their clinical training. School psychologists provide comprehensive services, from collaborating with teachers in developing reading curricula to conducting suicide risk assessments.
“Our graduate students learn how to appropriately assess students referred for autism or learning disabilities and conduct scientifically supported mental health interventions from highly skilled school psychologists, who are often UM graduates,” Goforth said. “School Psychology Awareness Week highlights the important work school psychologists do across the state of Montana.”
School psychologists are in high demand both nationally and in Montana. In a 2015 report by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, 98 percent of school psychologist positions were “difficult or hard to fill.”
“There is significant need for school psychologists in Montana,” Goforth said. “I receive phone calls from school districts across Montana and regionally, asking whether our graduates have found positions. All of our graduates get a job in their first year.”
NASP has put together a variety of resources that NASP members and other partners can access to coordinate School Psychology Awareness Week events and activities for their own schools and practice settings. Find them at www.nasponline.org/spaw.
To learn more about UM’s School Psychology Programs, visit http://hs.umt.edu/psychology/school-psychology/.