Unlocking Potential: A Day in the Life of a Great Prairie AEA School Psychologist

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Did you know that Great Prairie AEA provides school psychology support for your school? School psychologists play a vital role in shaping the educational landscape, working tirelessly to ensure the well-being and success of students. Let's take a closer look at the diverse and impactful responsibilities that fill a typical day in the life of these dedicated professionals.

Liz O’Neill Rich is in her 25th year as a school psychologist. Her inspiration to pursue this career comes from growing up with parents deeply immersed in the psychology field. Witnessing their dedication to helping others navigate their inner worlds sparked a genuine interest. The decision to become a school psychologist isn't just following family footsteps; it's a personal calling, driven by a passion to contribute to the well-being and academic success of students.

Reflecting on her service, she acknowledges that the journey hasn't always been easy, but it has undeniably been rewarding. Every day, filled with diverse challenges and triumphs, has been a testament to the impact of her chosen profession.

One of the heartening stories shared is about Arison, a child with Down syndrome who exudes boundless happiness and a love for books. The joy of working with such a remarkable child highlights the rewarding aspects of being a school psychologist. It's a job that extends beyond assessments and paperwork; it's about forming meaningful connections with students and making a positive impact on their lives.

The evolution of school psychology in the school setting over the past 50 years is evident. From its early days of evaluating children for special education eligibility to the present, where school psychologists are recognized as core team members, working collaboratively with other experts, consultants, and social workers. Together, they form a dedicated team focused on determining the best instructional methods, curriculum, and learner support needed to ensure every child makes progress.

Each day presents a fresh set of experiences – from addressing the needs of children with complex requirements to those with minor concerns. The focus is always on supporting students' psychological, educational, and emotional well-being through activities like assessments, consultations, academic and behavioral interventions, special education support, and more.

Another student diagnosed with autism is now thriving thanks to the advocacy of his mother and the team of AEA staff and teachers. “Our speech pathologists have played a crucial role in implementing a communication device in two languages,” explains Liz. “He has successfully learned a work break system, thanks to the collaborative efforts of our school social worker, who helped implement it. His classroom teachers, embracing the challenges of autism, English Language Learner (ELL) status, and bilingualism, have contributed to his thriving journey.”

In the ever-changing landscape of education, Liz’s journey remains a testament to the enduring value of the work. “When a worried mother or father reaches out, expressing concerns about their child, I am able to say, "I will carry that worry for you and we will come up with a plan," Liz expresses. Every day may be different, but the underlying commitment to fostering the well-being and success of students remains unwavering. 

Learn more about the services provided to your school district by Great Prairie AEA at gpaea.org