Small Steps Change Lives  

November 21, 2016

The 2016 theme for November celebration of School Psychology Awareness month is Small Steps Change Lives. The collective goal of school psychologists during the month of November is two-fold:

1. Highlight how taking small steps can build greater successes, and 
2. Develop the academic and social-emotional skills students need to promote personal achievement, growth, and resilience, as well as a sense of belonging and well-being. 

The ESU 10 psychologists engage in common activities such as:
  • Inform administrators and teachers about best practice in special education
  • Contribute to individual student problem solving
  • Provide educators with information for data analysis
  • Support district teams in developing leadership skills in Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)
  • Assess and evaluate student individual differences to identify intervention strategies, and
  • Support multidisciplinary teams in evaluating both standard and formative assessment information to determine whether a student is eligible for verification as an individual with a disability. 

As a member of the school psychology cadre, I am grateful to be surrounded by eight professionals whose efforts demonstrate an array of interests and skills that support student and teacher success. 

Individually, ESU 10 psychologists engage in activities, both small and large, in supporting the students. For example, ESU 10 school psychologists are providing information for data analysis, supporting district teams in developing leadership skills in Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), and pairing with teachers to learn about and implement different or new evaluation and instructional practices. 

These varied interests and aptitudes are demonstrated by school psychologist Kristine Einspahr as her efforts support the Brain Injury School Support Teams or as she helps facilitate the incorporation of routine-based interviews as a part of the early childhood family assessments. School Psychologist Stacey Romick-Imig pursues information about the mental health of students in schools by attending presentations and informing her colleagues and schools about issues students encounter and school supports that are available. With the support of school psychologist and Teaching and Learning Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Facilitator/Coach Patrice Feller, school psychologists Ronda Hunt, Nicole Shimek-Langrud and Kristine Einspahr are working along with school teams to implement the model in their schools. Their work is supported by school psychologist Bethany Hyatt who is a member of the MTSS advisory team. Bethany’s passion for consistency is also apparent in her quest to see that practices implemented by ESU 10 school psychologists are consistent and follow best practice guidelines. Another area of best practice, serving and providing good assessment of students who are English Language Learners is a topic that school psychologists Jennifer Rumery and Chris Denton have jointly pursued.  While all the school psychologists played a role in developing Verification Guidelines for ESU 10, Chris has been instrumental in assuring the process and document are current. In addition to other interests, school psychologist Nicole Shimek-Langrud served as the facilitator for creating documents for the functional assessment of behavior. School Psychologist Dawna Sigurdson’s role as regional coordinator of the Nebraska Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Network for the Central Region also impacts the practice of all school psychologists in providing support in identifying students with autism and supporting their programming. Together our diverse interests and aptitudes positively inform practices across ESU 10. 

ESU 10 school psychologists’ roles include facets that indirectly, through collaborative efforts, affect areas beyond ESU 10. In collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney, ESU 10 school psychologists provide experiences for students during their practicum and internship experiences to further support growth in the field of school psychology. All these efforts directly and indirectly demonstrate steps that collectively enhance the culture of schools and student success.

-by Dawna Sigurdson, School Psychologist