National School Psychology Awareness Week—November 10–14, 2008
School psychologists work each day to support the emotional, social and academic needs of Charleston County School District (CCSD) students. This week, the district celebrates the assistance, roles, and impact of these professionals.
The Need for School Psychologists
Left unaddressed, issues such as learning difficulties, poor mental and physical health, cultural and linguistic differences, and socioeconomic or family problems can significantly impede school success. CCSD has 33 school psychologists, who work in collaboration with parents and educators to ensure that every child has the mental health and learning support they need. In addition, these psychologists work very closely with teachers, school social workers, guidance counselors, and other staff to coordinate services. This collaboration may occur as part of an Individualized Education Program team, a crisis response team or a general education support team.
“School psychologists are vital members of a team—which also includes parents, school personnel, and other professionals—all centered around the specific needs of the individual student” said Cathy Chick, the district’s Coordinator of Psychological Services. “Our psychologists work with students individually and in groups, and they address school- and district-wide issues such as bullying prevention and positive behavioral supports. We use many different approaches depending on the particular issues, but all of our work is designed to minimize and eliminate barriers to learning, thereby helping our students reach their full potential.”
School Psychologists: Training and Credentialing
All CCSD psychologists must meet intense training and education requirements. They must be certified and/or licensed to work in South Carolina, and they must complete a minimum of a Specialist-level degree program (60 graduate semester credits) that includes a 1200 hour internship. Some school psychologists have a doctoral degree and may be nationally-certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board.
The Role of the CCSD School Psychologist
In Charleston County, school psychologists are assigned to elementary and middle schools but may be requested by high schools as needed. Each psychologist plays multiple roles in the school community. Responsibilities include—but are certainly not limited to:
- coordinating prevention efforts for students at risk for failing at school;
- promote tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity;
- developing programs to make learning environments safer and preparing for crisis intervention;
- strengthening relationships and helping others understand how child development and mental health affect learning and behavior;
- assessing skills and evaluating eligibility for special services;
- working directly with children and families to help address challenges;
- helping families and schools manage crises such as death, illness, or community trauma.
- evaluating the effectiveness of academic/behavior management programs and implementing interventions based on evidence based research.
National School Psychology Awareness Week
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)—representing more than 25,5000 school psychologists—has designated November 10–14, 2008 as National School Psychology Awareness Week. This year, NASP is emphasizing how supporting the needs of the whole child is critical to academic success and other positive school outcomes.
For more information about CCSD’s school psychologists, please contact Cathy Chick, CCSD’s Coordinator of Psychological Services.