School Psychology Program Has a 100% Employment Rate Thanks to Signature Elements of the Program

School Psychology Program Has a 100% Employment Rate Thanks to Signature Elements of the Program

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The School Psychology Program prepares candidates through rigorous coursework, competitive field placement experiences, and a hallmark self-care theme infused throughout the curriculum while introducing new courses that build skills to serve diverse populations.

We look at each candidate individually and look to fill any gaps in experience so that when it comes time to find a job they are well-rounded candidates.

— Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, director of the School Psychology Program

“Our program is designed to be very student-centered,” shared Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, director of the School Psychology Program.

Fairfield’s master of arts degree and sixth year certificate in School Psychology develop competencies in the areas of assessment, consultation, and direct intervention. Students evolve as professionals through classroom experiences, faculty and peer mentorship, and field placement opportunities to apply knowledge and skills in school and clinical settings. A signature component of the program is the emphasis of self-care to protect against practitioner burnout. In fact, Dr. Gill Lopez says she hears from applicants who are interested in the program and that they’ve applied because self-care is central to the program.

“Students are coming to the program because of the self-care and mindfulness practices we teach,” said Dr. Gill Lopez. “Our students need to start equipping themselves against burnout and stress while they’re in the program in order to develop healthy self-care habits early on.”

The school psychology program also prioritizes the fostering of school connectedness and social emotional learning (SEL) as a vehicle for whole child development.

“Our program places great emphasis on valuing, recognizing, and supporting the development of the child in context.” said Evelyn Bilias Lolis, PhD, associate professor of School Psychology and Special Education. “We prepare school psychologists who are highly nuanced in SEL and in bolstering the social and emotional competencies of all children."

In addition to an emphasis on self-care and SEL, the program addresses the needs of diverse populations which illustrates how Fairfield’s Jesuit mission is carried out as part of the program, as well as in all School of Education and Human Development programs.

Michael Regan, PhD, NCSP, associate professor of the practice in School Psychology, will start teaching a new seminar on bilingual assessment in the spring. The advanced seminar, titled, Assessment of Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students, is important because it provides school psychologists with the skills to assess students in a culturally sensitive way. The course will teach candidates how to differentiate learning disorders from the process of second language acquisition through non-biased assessment including testing in the student’s native language, bilingual testing, and adaptation of standardized instruments and techniques.

As Dr. Regan described, evaluating the English learner is a complex process and without adequate knowledge of the role second language acquisition has on the learning process, some English learners may be mistakenly identified as a child with a disability.

“It takes one to two years for English learners to become conversational and seven to ten years to achieve cognitive academic language proficiency, and in the meantime they’re expected to perform at the same level as native English speakers. These students have unique learning trajectories that are too often not being considered.”

In addition to essential coursework, students engage in three field placements during the program. Students complete two practicum placements, the first of which is three days a week, usually in an urban district where students apply their assessment skills. Following the first practicum placement students spend six to eight weeks in an alternative school placement such as a behavioral intensive school or a community mental health setting where they conduct individual, group, and crisis counseling. Lastly students take part in a full-time, year-long internship. Each internship supervisor, many who are graduates of the program, is vetted by Dr. Gill Lopez as University Supervisor for the program. Interviewing is a key part of the internship field placement experience. Students arrange interviews with potential supervisors to find the best supervisor that fits what they are looking for, to develop interviewing skills for the ideal job, and to become empowered by the process.

“Everything we do is designed to make our students more marketable,” said Dr. Gill Lopez. “We look at each candidate individually and look to fill any gaps in experience so that when it comes time to find a job they are well-rounded candidates. Our students always get jobs, often times receiving multiple job offers, and we have a 100% employment rate every year.”

Fairfield’s School Psychology Program is nationally recognized by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) which is the specialized professional association affiliated with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The School of Education and Human Development is fully accredited by CAEP through December, 2028.

Tags:  SEHD

Last modified: 12-02-21 11:21 AM

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