Reported by Kate Crowder
Germantown, Tennessee--August 12, 2021Historically in GMSD, school psychologists have conducted and interpreted evaluations for special education services. Prior to the summer, Germantown Municipal School District employed three school psychologists that spent their days traveling from school to school delivering assessments.
After the renewed focus on Whole Child Education and utilization of ESSER federal relief funding, the role of the school psychologists in GMSD is about to expand. In July, two additional school psychologists were hired bringing their team to five members, making it possible for each member to focus on specific school locations and establish strong relationships with school level ESE teams and administrators. But, more than that, they will also be expanding their scope of work to include more mental health support for students.
Under the new Whole Child Education initiative, the Exceptional Student Education Department has partnered with our school counselors and school social workers to provide a wide range of social emotional health services to students that are in need.
“For us, it’s very exciting,” said School Psychology Supervisor Christine Hingle. “Our graduate school training is aligned with the National Association of School Psychologists and is focused around ten skill areas, and we are looking forward to using more of them in our day-to-day work” she said.
School Psychologists are specially licensed and must complete at least 60 hours of graduate school credits and complete a 1200 hour internship. According to the NASP website, their skills training enables them to collect data, conduct assessments, provide progress monitoring, facilitate school-wide practices to promote learning, consult and collaborate with faculty and staff, deliver academic/learning interventions, and to provide mental health or behavioral interventions. “With a larger team, school psychologists will be working alongside our school counselors and school social workers to provide vital mental health services to students in need in a way that we haven’t been used before,” said Hingle.
While they will assist in supporting students struggling with mental health, all services, much like those delivered by a traditional school counselor, are only delivered with parental permission. Services could include individual/group counseling, anger management, conflict resolution, and positive coping skills. Additionally, they will collaborate with principals and teachers to work on school-wide campaigns around motivation and student engagement.
“We are here to support our schools, and are committed to providing these support services both during and post-pandemic as we’ve seen a rise in social emotional health issues in students [nationwide],” said Hingle.