Why am I a School Psychologist?
Choosing a career and a life path is always challenging, especially when you come from an impecunious family in a rural community and lack exposure and experience with all the options. My story started when my mother met a school psychologist back in the 1960s through her employment with the local probation department. At that time, there were very few school psychologists in school districts and it was apparently a rather new career. My mother was impressed with this individual and thought that the field of school psychology might be a good fit for me. Since my high school guidance counselor had given me, a female honor student, only three career possibilities choices: teacher, nurse or secretary, I was interested in my mother’s thoughts on something different. My forward thinking mother, the epitome of an empowered woman, thought there were more options for me, and encouraged me to major in psychology as an undergrad. I listened to my mother those decisions paved the way for admittance to graduate school to study school psychology. I was fortunate enough to live near the University at Albany, and enrolled in their excellent graduate program.
I have never been sorry that this became my career path. These decisions were some of the best and most satisfying of my life. Being a school psychologist allows me to be a detective, assisting children, parents and teachers in determining why a child is experiencing difficulty as a student. Whether the issue is with reading, writing, math, social or emotional skills, or medical issues, it gives me great satisfaction to play a role in alleviating a child’s difficulties. The great field of school psychology allows me to work 1 on 1 with a child and really get to know that child as a person as well as a learner. In so doing, I often uncover additional motivators, unspoken anxieties, and missing links. School Psychology allows me to use my own math and writing skills to convey important information to all three parties (parents, teachers, and children) in order to transform that child’s future as a student, and to assist the child better understanding his own learning style and needs. This understanding paves the way for kids as they leave school and enter the adult world and work force. It is my goal that every child I work with enters the work force as an empowered, self-aware person, ready to advocate for themselves and prepared to put themselves in the most suitable environment for their intellectual style.
Being a school psychologist has allowed me to fulfill both intellectual needs and emotional ones. It is fulfilling to work closely with a child, and to synthesize the needs of the child with the requirements of the team (parents and teachers) who will guide the child in the future. I believe that coming from a background that included a disabled parent, a rural community, and socio-economic disadvantage, has allowed me to develop a compassion for single parents, poor families, minorities, and others who find themselves marginalized or unheard. This compassion has shaped my identity as a school psychologist and informed my mission: to be an advocate for each child and his family and to identify the child as my client.