My Education: BS Psychology, Siena College; MSEd, School Psychology, College of St. Rose
My Prior Experience: I started by taking long-term leave positions in the area where I live. I also did some per diem work completing re-evaluations for special education where I had completed my internship,
My Company: I work for a small urban school district in upstate New York.
Job/Career Overview: As a school psychologist, I wear many hats, and every work day is different. My primary responsibilities, however, involve evaluating students who are struggling in school in order to determine whether or not they qualify for special education services. This involves administering standardized tests, observing students in their classrooms to see how they approach academics and what behaviors might be interfering with their success, collecting academic information, and collaborating with parents, teachers and other professionals.
When all the needed information is gathered, it is my responsibility to write reports that organize this information and make recommendations to a committee, called the Committee on Special Education. Every three years, students who receive special education are re-evaluated using this same process, and I am responsible for that as well.
In addition to these responsibilities, I provide individual and group counseling for students who may have social or emotional needs that interfere with their success at school. I also help students and families access psychological services in the community when they need them, and assist students who are in crisis.
School psychologists are usually involved in several committees, and I chair a team, called the Instructional Support Team (some schools may call it a "Child Study Team"), which serves to monitor the support and progress of students who are struggling academically or behaviorally.
Finally, I consult with teachers regularly, and provide them with suggestions regarding struggling students.
More Insights: Most people thing school psychologists are more like private psychologists or even psychiatrists. In fact, although we do work with the socio-emotional concerns of students, our jobs are educationally-based. We focus on the academic success of students and any issues that may be getting in the way. School-based counseling services focus on student issues that are impeding success at school, and issues that do not affect school are referred out to private counselors.
I rate this career 6 out of 10.
The best part of my job is working with the students. I learn so much from them, and enjoy their unique qualities. It is extremely rewarding when a student who has been having difficulties in one area or another makes progress, and I have been involved in that process.
One of the more frustrating parts of my job is that there are never enough resources to help students in crisis fast enough or well enough, especially since I work in a low-resource, high needs community.Another hard part of my job is meeting all the requirements of New York State regulations in completing reports, meeting deadlines, and making recommendations for special education.
Anyone studying to be a school psychologist would be wise to take as many courses in reading as possible. A good portion of your job will be related to evaluating students who are having difficulty with all the skills involved in reading, and you will work very closely with reading specialists, so it is important to understand the concepts and skills very well.
It will also be very important to educate yourself in behavioral interventions, whether it be through your course work, or jobs you may have, such as working in residential schools for students with socio-emotional and behavioral difficulties.