What is a School Psychologist?
School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community for all students.
School psychologists are highly trained in both psychology and education, completing a minimum of a specialist-level degree program (at least 60 graduate semester hours) that includes a year-long supervised internship. This training emphasizes preparation in mental health and educational interventions, child development, learning, behavior, motivation, curriculum and instruction, assessment, consultation, collaboration, school law, and systems. School psychologists must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which they work. They also may be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB). The National Association of School Psychologists sets ethical and training standards for practice and service delivery.
What do School Psychologists do?
School Psychologists Work With Students to:
Provide counseling, instruction, and mentoring for those struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral problems
Increase achievement by assessing barriers to learning and determining the best instructional strategies to improve learning
Promote wellness and resilience by reinforcing communication and social skills, problem solving, anger management, self-regulation, self-determination, and optimism
Enhance understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures and backgrounds
School Psychologists Work With Students and Their Families to:
Identify and address learning and behavior problems that interfere with school success
Evaluate eligibility for special education services (within a multidisciplinary team)
Support students' social, emotional, and behavioral health
Teach parenting skills and enhance home–school collaboration
Make referrals and help coordinate community support services
School Psychologists Work With Teachers to:
Identify and resolve academic barriers to learning
Design and implement student progress monitoring systems
Design and implement academic and behavioral interventions
Support effective individualized instruction
Create positive classroom environments
Motivate all students to engage in learning
School Psychologists Work With Administrators to:
Collect and analyze data related to school improvement, student outcomes, and accountability requirements
Implement school-wide prevention programs that help maintain positive school climates conducive to learning
Promote school policies and practices that ensure the safety of all students by reducing school violence, bullying, and harassment
Respond to crises by providing leadership, direct services, and coordination with needed community services
Design, implement, and garner support for comprehensive school mental health programming
School Psychologists Work With Community Providers to:
Coordinate the delivery of services to students and their families in and outside of school
Help students transition to and from school and community learning environments, such as residential treatment or juvenile justice programs
How do School Psychologists make a difference in schools?
All children and adolescents face problems from time to time. They may:
Feel afraid to go to school
Have difficulty organizing their time efficiently
Lack effective study skills
Fall behind in their school work
Worry about family matters such as divorce and death
Feel depressed or anxious
Experiment with drugs and alcohol
Think about suicide
Worry about their sexuality
Face difficult situations, such as applying to college, getting a job, or quitting school
Question their aptitudes and abilities
School psychologists help children, parents, teachers, and members of the community understand and resolve these concerns. Following are examples of how school psychologists make a difference.
Helping Students With Learning Problems
Helping Students Cope With Family and Life Stressors
Helping Students With Behavior Problems Learn New Ways to Respond
Adapted from the National Association of School Psychologists website
Northshore's Evaluation Team
A Northshore School District evaluation team will review and/or assess a student when a disability is suspected. If the evaluation team finds that the student does have a disability and is in need of specially designed instruction (in accordance with state regulations), an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will then be developed.
What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?
A team of educational specialists meets with the family to identify specific areas in which to provide extra support/instruction for the student. An Individualized Education Plan is a written plan that specifies how the team will work with the student in those areas requiring additional or special support.
Mrs. Heather Swanson
I'm the school psychologist for Woodmoor Elementary school. I'm a native Californian but spent my undergraduate years in Kansas. My passion lies in fostering social/emotional development in students. I also enjoy collaborating with teachers and staff on academic and behavioral interventions that can be implemented in the classroom.
Degrees and Certifications:
B.A., Psychology- Bethel College
Ed.S., School Psychology- University of Washington
ESA- School Psychologist