HOW REGION 11 CREATED A SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS IN A LARGE AND DIVERSE AREA
by
Vivian Dermyer










Region 11 Psychologists:  Read on to discover why they are smiling.

You can visit them at their creative and informative website www.daspweb.com created by the MASP Region 11 Director   Linda Maier, Ed.S., NCSP

Region 11 is a southern suburb of Detroit. During 1980, the “Downriver Association of School Psychologists (D.A.S.P.) was created in an attempt to provide a support system for school psychologists and to help coordinate services downriver. Linda Maier, a school psychologist in Wyandotte, established this group by calling the neighboring school psychologists to meet for lunch once a month. Gradually more school psychologists got together to talk about students and practices. With the advent of School Psychologist Certification requirements during 1992, the group incorporated SB-CEU’s. As technology progressed, Linda developed the group’s website. In 1994, Linda became the M.A.S.P. SB-CEU coordinator and incorporated this information on the website for all school psychologists in Michigan to use. 

MEET SOME OTHER MEMBERS OF THE DASP REGION 11 TEAM

Lynn Hamilton-Dearborn Heights # 7 School District: When I found the DASP website a few years ago, I felt very excited to meet several other school psychologists facing similar professional challenges for today's student.  My name is Lynn Hamilton Check and I am starting my 6th year as a school psychologist for Dearborn Heights School District #7.  My early work history occurred in a large suburban district with a whole department of school psychologists.  After an extended leave to raise my four children, I returned to work as the only school psychologist for a district of about 3,200 students.

Jackie Tobey-Lincoln Park Schools:  I have many interests within the field, but generally speaking they center on prevention, diversity, and international school psychology.  In addition to the traditional duties associated with assessment, I spend my time consulting with colleagues (primarily on behavioral issues) and working with small groups of students on a variety of issues such as social skills and coping with grief/loss.

Jerry Rzepka-Romulus Schools: I have been a practicing school psychologist for about 28 years. I’ve also been a part-time psychology Instructor at Henry Ford Community College for the past 16 years. I currently service a preschool program, three elementary schools, and a middle school.

Kelly Thomas-Southgate Schools: Southgate is a small community servicing approximately 5,000 students.  I currently service three elementary schools, a middle school and a preschool.  My job mainly consists of new evaluations of students.  Additional projects include revising crisis team practices, developing plans to implement RTI, and a special pen pal project designed for students who are currently certified with learning disabilities.

Thomas McHenry-Gross Isle Township Schools: I am the only School Psychologist who works on an Island in the middle of the Detroit River.  In addition to school psychology, I have been involved with the Downriver Family Expo, a yearly event aimed at giving families a chance to learn parenting skills and discover the many resources within their area. I have enjoyed entertaining the children as “Happy Tom’s Learning Jamboree” and donating my CD “Tot Rocks” to support the organization.

Dr. Charles Mills-Ecorse Schools: I am a licensed psychologist and state certified school psychologist. I have been in private practice for 30 years and have served in the role of school psychologist with the Ecorse Public Schools over the past 17 years. Ecorse is a small district in which everyone wears many hats. I am involved with continuous improvement monitoring, state assessment, curriculum development, and positive behavior support among other activities

Dr. Beau Roy-Wyandotte: I am currently in my 9th year as a school psychologist.  I have also worked as a behavioral specialist at a center-based program and have taught at Wayne State University as adjunct faculty.  My main interests revolve around the prevention and remediation of learning and behavioral disorders and the development and instruction of early reading skills
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WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT REGION 11?

Lynn: The D.A.S.P. organization provided me with the opportunity to establish monthly contact with other local psychologists (many of whom also have sole responsibility for their district).  Speaking the same language and confronting common issues has led to a group of colleagues sharing ideas, concerns and support for one another.    This subgroup of M.A.S.P. has provided a peer group with time to discuss professional concerns regarding students, changing state and federal laws, best practice ideas for evaluations, communication tools, etc. 

Jackie: In my opinion, what makes Region 11 unique is our commitment to collaboration.  Every month we take time out of our schedules to meet and discuss the challenges we face on a daily basis. We also have the opportunity to learn about current issues and local resources from the presentations.  Through this process we minimally find a source of support, but usually and optimally come away with new ideas to make us more effective practitioners.

Jerry: I think our region is unique just by the fact that we are a group of school psychologists that have gotten together monthly for many years.
Tom:   I am one of the lucky few who have a chance to meet with fellow Region 11 comrades. D.A.S.P. allows our community, which is comprised of several small school districts, an opportunity to share fresh ideas, bring concerns for group discussion and review new state and federal guidelines.  D.A.S.P. is truly a tight knit group who work hard to support our profession and the region we serve.

Chuck:  D.A.S.P. members collaborate in order to offer effective leadership as new paradigms utilizing wide-ranging and proactive strategies for educating children are introduced into our schools.
Beau: One of the most important contributing factors to the uniqueness of Region 11’s success is good leadership. Our ability to meet monthly and share ideas, gain support, and learn of resources is due in large part upon to our current Region 11 director’s dedication and direction.

REGION 11 SHARES ADVICE FOR THOSE ENTERING THE FIELD OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY

Lynn: My advice for individuals entering the field of school psychology: continue to advocate for all students to grow academically to approach their potential and recognize that we are all lifelong learners.

Jackie:  The advice that I would give to new School Psychologists or to those struggling with rule changes is to remain flexible and open-minded; hold onto those therapeutic skills you learned in graduate school!  I think those are key when you are facing a difficult parent, colleague, or situation. EVERYTHING is a process.  I try to set small goals that are within my control. 

Jerry: My advice is to become proficient in consultation (academic & behavioral interventions); curriculum based assessment; cognitive/learning style assessment; education law (special & general); and time management. Be flexible and open to change, however, be willing to critically evaluate any proposed changes to traditional school psychology practices.

Kelly: My advice to new people entering the field would be to make sure you sit in on some general education classes so you are aware of what is expected of both the students and the teachers. 

Chuck: I feel this is a great time for advancing methodologies in education based on modern research and design that support the development and achievement of all children in classrooms where everyone belongs.

Beau: Continue to immerse yourself in professional learning experiences. Additionally, I suggest that you learn the perspectives of the team around you such as teachers, behavioral specialists, speech and language pathologists, SSW’s, and OT’s and PT’s. Another great way to acquire experience is to spend time “in vivo”, which can include time spent in the class room, a center based program, a mental health clinic, or by participating in research, etc. Such experiences should help one become a well rounded school psychologist with the abilities to empathize and offer suggestions from varying points of view.

Region 11 is composed of truly terrific people and psychologists. Over the years, we have learned so much from each other! We have had many lively discussions on a variety of topics. All of us have grown professionally through viewing ideas from different perspectives. We have become a close knit group who really like, respect and enjoy each other’s company.
-Linda   --  MASP Regional Director