Khara Croswaite Brindle graduated  from Morgridge College of Education Counseling Psychology master’s program in 2012 with a passion for helping and a keen ear for listening – and understanding – others. Today, she is a private practice licensed professional therapist with a focus on clients using Medicaid. At nights and on the weekends, she runs her own business developing an app to assess and prevent suicide.

“I saw a need for this assessment tool,” she said, as if this were the simplest thing in the world. “I want people who want to go ‘there’ to be able to have that tough conversation and be able to access resources to get help.”

By people who want to go “there,” she means teachers, coaches, case managers, anyone who may be in a professional position to see another person struggling but not be a clinical mental health professional. Her goal is to make the conversation about suicide easier to approach, easier to have, and easier to know what to do. Her app works like this. Said person (let’s call them the professional) sees another person struggling. Maybe they have every day contact, maybe they see them once a week, but they believe this person is having a hard time. They decide to broach THE question, the tough question, the one they know the answer to but maybe do not know what to do with the response.

“Do you want to kill yourself?”

“Are you suicidal?”

“Do you have thoughts of harming yourself?”

They bring up the app. The app is loaded with the suicide risk assessment, and the professional begins the heart-to-heart. Together, they talk, the professional listens, and they have the conversation. Once complete the app populates next steps, organizations to contact for additional help, where to find online and face-to-face support, and who to call for emergency assistance. It also goes one step further and populates resources based on factors such as age and geographical location. Currently its resources are for the entire state of Colorado.

Croswaite Brindle stresses that this app is not meant to be a total assessment. This is also not a one and done conversation. This app is meant to help on the spot and give the professional and the person hurting a beginning roadmap to intervention and recovery.

In her practice, Croswaite Brindle regularly works with at-risk populations. This is a conscious decision to provide the best possible care to patients with Medicaid. She works with teenagers, single parents, individuals struggling with gender identity, veterans; she works with regular, everyday people who are struggling and each and every day her goal is to provide them with the best possible care.

“I think my cohort at Morgridge helped to frame my career now,” she said. “My class graduated and we were so excited to get out and be agents of change.”

An agent of change she is. Already her app is in use and under development. She has started to work with the Mental Health Center of Denver and run workshops with other professionals to continue to build resources and continue to assess risk factors. She considers Colorado to be her pilot state, but her long-term goal is to have the application be used nationwide and endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Through it all, she stays in contact with her professors at Morgridge. Now colleagues in the field, she finds their support and encouragement invaluable.

“My connections are wonderful to have,” she said. “It’s been great to continue to collaborate and exciting for me to see the cohorts grow. I definitely am a proud Morgridge alum, and someday I hope to be back in some capacity.”

Back as in, getting a PhD, teaching the next generation of mental health professionals?

“I can see all of that,” she smiles. “Someday.”

More information about the app can be found at Cacs-co.com.

While much of the country is eagerly headed back to school this week, the Morgridge College of Education has one last event before we can move into the fall – and it’s a big event. The summer quarter graduation ceremonies kicked off today, Friday, August 18 with the annual Hooding Ceremony in the Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall Commons. Candidates received the honorary doctoral hood from their faculty advisor. The Hooding Ceremony is a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation of academic doctors to the next.

After the hooding, graduates and their families stuck around for a reception in the commons area. Tomorrow, our 28 doctoral candidates and 59 masters or certificate students will receive their degrees in the annual commencement ceremonies at 8:30 a.m. on the Carnegie Green. Congratulations to all of our graduates, and please visit Flickr to see the entire event photo album.

Earlier this year, masters and doctoral students in the Morgridge College of Education Counseling Psychology (CP) program saw a rising need in their community for social justice and advocacy for underrepresented people. Instead of sitting idly by, the students decided to take action through the creation of the Social Justice Committee with help from faculty members Pat Garriott and Ruth Chao.

Many students attend the CP program here at Morgridge specifically for its focus on issues of diversity and multiculturalism, and while much of our course content currently reflects that focus, many students and faculty feel we could still be doing more, hence the formation of the committee. Since the committee’s inception, they have kept busy with lots of activities and efforts to promote inclusive excellence and create a more equitable and welcoming space for all community members, both on campus and in the greater Denver area. Here are just a few ways they are making an impact:

  • Revamping Curricula: The Social Justice Committee is currently collaborating with faculty to find ways to incorporate issues of power, privilege, and inequity into all of the Counseling Psychology curriculum through possible instructor trainings, and reflective surveys for students where they can provide feedback on their in-class experience, particularly related to socio-political and multicultural climate in the classroom. Their hope is that in the future, curricula across University of Denver (DU) programs will reflect those themes, and provide a space where all students and faculty feel safe.
  • Workshops: They are working with the Center for Multicultural Excellence in hopes of providing training opportunities and workshops for all community members that address these issues. In the fall, several students in conjunction with the Social Justice Committee plan to host one such workshop on “Responding to Microaggressions” (stay tuned for further details).
  • Bias Incidence Reporting: The committee has also taken steps across campus to address issues of social justice, particularly in the reporting of bias-related incidents, and the way in which individuals are described and identified in reports of crime or other incidents. Committee members noticed that bias-related incidents were not consistently reported to the whole university community, and that many reports only identified individuals’ racial and ethnic identity if they were a person of color, and in turn joined the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) to address these issues with Campus Safety (who was very responsive to the committee’s concerns). Using counseling skills they’ve learned in the classroom and in practice, the team was able to effectively work with Campus Safety to change the way incidents are reported and improve the relationship between campus law enforcement and students. While this change is a step in the right direction, the committee thinks we can still do more. First year PhD student, Ellen Shupe, who led this effort, had this to say about the process: “Anytime you try to change a system you experience barriers. Hopefully through continued work with the Campus Safety department, we can continue to move in the direction of minimizing racial profiling and the criminalization of people of color on campus. Additionally, we want to make sure that violent acts against people of color are reported and investigated with as much urgency as those against white people.”

The Social Justice Committee currently meets twice a quarter, and they are always looking for new members who are committed to social change. For more information on joining the committee or their current efforts, you can contact PhD student, Eve Faris at eve.faris@du.edu, or subscribe to the Social Justice listserv here.

Three hundred forty-five miles from the University of Denver is the West End School District RE-2. Tucked into the southwest region of Colorado, West End Serves the communities of Bedrock, Naturita, Nucla, and Paradox, covers over 1,000 square miles, and serves approximately 250 total students. Providing education to the rural farming communities, the district faces challenges like any other school district; yet its isolated location brings with it a different set of obstacles when providing the best possible education for students and teachers alike.

Mike Epright, West End’s Superintendent, has made a push and a commitment to maintain quality education. According to West End’s website, the district does so “by providing elevated academic classes, vocational and technical training, and special education programs… Students throughout the district also have the advantage of excellent technology and the opportunity to obtain multiple college credits prior to graduation.”

The district also made a commitment to build capacity through the development of its educators by participating in the Colorado Department of Education Turnaround Leadership Grant Program. The Turnaround Leadership grant, as described by the Colorado Department of Education, “establishes and promotes leadership training specifically for the turnaround environment and is an integral part of Colorado’s state-wide strategy to improve the performance of students in the lowest-performing schools and districts in the state.”

The grant works in two ways: one grant is for the participant (e.g., West End School District RE-2), and one grant is for the provider (e.g., Morgridge College of Education). Together, the entities are able to provide training to educators who can then return to their districts with the tools they need to implement lasting, positive change.

In 2015 two worlds became one as the West End School District partnered with the Morgridge College of Education’s Education Leadership Policy Studies (ELPS) Mountain Cohort. Through this unique partnership, two educators from West End were able to engage in Morgridge College’s ELPS classes in order to expand their personal breadth of knowledge and enrich their district. This fall, another West End educator will join the 2017 Mountain Cohort.

Suddenly, 345 miles was not too far.

“Having the opportunity to develop and implement current research in school improvement, the West End School District has been able to benefit from having two ‘grow your own’ educators take part in the University of Denver’s Aspiring Leaders/ELPS MA Program,” said Epright. “Over the two-year commitment, these two leaders helped shape the instruction and assessment in the district and provided current professional development to staff which shaped a new program change to Project Based Learning.”

Hank Nelson, Morgridge graduate and Instructional Leader at Nucla Elementary School, agrees with Epright. “Participating in the ELPS MA Program was the most beneficial, fulfilling, and impactful experience of my professional career,” he said. “Not one experience failed to be valuable, developing my growth as a leader while indirectly providing a service to the needs of our district. This program made me into an equitable, adaptable, data-driven, innovative, inquiring, and action-research oriented leader.”

An action-oriented leader is exactly the type of leader Epright wants in his schools.

“…through hard work and cooperation, they set a vision of educating each student to the best of their ability,” he added. “I strongly recommend all rural districts reach out to the programming offered!”

The Morgridge College of Education is committed to addressing the needs of both rural and turnaround schools. With its constant adaptation to meet the needs of its students, Morgridge hopes to bridge the divide between distance and hands-on learning. Its Mountain Cohort specifically strives to create an opportunity for rural communities to invest in school leaders who were already part of those communities. In this way, turnaround leadership can organically occur.

The ELPS program, which earned a top 20 ranking in Best Education Administration and Supervision by the U.S. News and World Report in 2016, is now accepting applications for its Mountain Cohort for fall 2017.

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) graduate Lara Jackman  (MA’16) has recently accepted  the position of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator with Summit School District in Frisco, CO. Jackman, who leaves her position as Literacy Resource Teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher at Upper Blue Elementary School in Breckenridge, CO, will step into her new role for the 2017-2018 school year.

Jackman was in the Mountain Cohort of the Morgridge College of Education’s principal certification program, Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (ELSS). The Mountain ELSS cohort expands opportunities for educators and administrators to benefit from the program’s expertise and earn Certification for Colorado Principal Licensure. ELPS—which earned a top 20 ranking in Best Education Administration and Supervision by the U.S. News and World Report in 2016—launched the Mountain cohort of ELSS in the 2014-15 academic year to support leadership development within the rural mountain communities of Colorado and to meet the needs of region’s district superintendents. Since that time, the cohort has seen 13 graduates accept leadership positions within their districts, six of which are now in assistant principal or lead principal roles.

According to Morgridge Assistant Professor of Practice, Ellen Miller-Brown, Ph.D., the cohort provides a “high-quality, hybrid face-to-face and online program without the need for extensive travelling.” Face-to-face classes are held at locations in the high mountain region where the majority of the students reside.

Miller-Brown is incredibly proud of Jackman’s recent promotion.

“She [Jackman] is very knowledgeable about curriculum and this is the dream job she wanted with the certification she received through our program,” Miller-Brown explained.

The Morgridge Mountain ELSS Cohort will kick off another class in fall 2017 and is accepting applications now for the 2017 – 2018 academic year.

Ricks Center for Gifted Children was recently named a Top 5 Private School in Colorado by Colorado Parent magazine. Ricks, a nationally recognized gifted education school located on the University of Denver campus and part of the Morgridge College of Education, provides a dynamic and challenging educational environment to approximately 250 students from preschool through eighth grade. The award was part of Colorado Parent’s annual Top 5 issue and was selected by editors of Colorado Parent Magazine and voted on by magazine readers.

Ricks Center at the University of Denver was founded in 1984 as the University Center for Gifted Young Children. The school grew from a doctoral summer project by Dr. Norma Lu Hafenstein. In 1984, Dr. Hafenstein developed a summer session for young gifted children at the University of Denver. The children were brought together for enriched, thematic activities designed to promote a supportive learning environment for gifted children.

Today, Ricks is housed in an innovative space designed specifically for educating gifted young people. Classrooms, a science and visual arts laboratory, library, foreign language labs, a multi-purpose room (for physical education, drama, music), and administrative office space are all housed in one building. Outdoor playgrounds are located on the site, and students also have access to many University of Denver facilities.

Content specialists in music, art, languages, and physical education have classrooms dedicated to their use. The Primary and Upper School students have access to a large playground with multiple playing surfaces and equipment. Technology is available for students of all ages in age-appropriate and curriculum-based situations, and a new Maker Space is under development and expected to be completed fall 2017.

Curriculum and Instruction program alumna Dr. Barri Tinkler (PhD ‘04) has been awarded the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health.  Tinkler will be at the University of Calgary (UCalgary) in Spring 2018 conducting research with the Werklund School of Education, examining the community engaged work they do to support refugee integration. Tinkler’s research on the work of the Werklund faculty will provide a model to inform the field of teacher education for all countries that undertake refugee resettlement.

While at Morgridge, Tinkler worked to merge her interests in community-based work with a meaningful research agenda. Dr. Tinkler is especially interested in social justice issues, something that attracted her to apply for a Fulbright especially at UCalgary. “I am excited to be able to learn from the faculty at UCalgary, especially Dr. Darren Lund,” said Tinkler. “Dr. Lund has made it a common goal across campus to focus on supportive integration, and the entire university’s strong commitment to social justice frames its choices.”

Dr. Tinkler is currently an Associate Professor in Secondary Education and Education for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity at the University of Vermont (UVM). She serves as faculty in the Secondary Education program and the Education for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity minor. Her previous research focused on the impact of service-learning experiences on preservice teachers when working with marginalized populations of learners.

More recently, her research focuses on the impact of service-learning experiences with refugees with an eye toward fostering cultural humility. In 2015, Tinkler instituted a “Citizenship and Education in the United States” class to help adult refugees from Russia, Bhutan, Uganda, Nepal, South Sudan, Vietnam, and other countries prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. Part of the class is a service-learning component, which Tinkler added to her curriculum as a way of giving life to the course content.

“It’s a way of connecting the policy to the person and put a face on the individuals that it affects,” said Tinkler. “I also want students to understand how resilient the refugee population is by hearing about it first-hand.”

The Fulbright award will allow Tinkler to collaborate with UCalgary, a public research university, and create curriculum to further support her passion of refugee integration, something she has incorporated into her entire career.

Tinkler has teaching experience at the K-12 level as a Peace Corps volunteer in Papua New Guinea and as a social studies teacher at Stillwater Junior High School. Her recent Fulbright is one more step on her life-long commitment to social justice and cross-cultural understanding.

The Colorado Consortium of Residency Educators (CO-CORE), a unique group of partners across higher education and non-profit organizations in Colorado, has received a $400,000 federal grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to study what makes teacher residencies effective as a teacher preparation strategy and how to sustainably fund their most important elements.

As the number of teacher residency programs has grown in Colorado and across the country, the range of preparation approaches has grown as well, raising questions about the quality and effectiveness of these different approaches. This two-year study will analyze data from a range of residency program models from across the state to understand what makes programs effective and determine and provide comparable metrics to understand program success.

The principal investigators for this study are Rebecca Kantor, dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, and Karen Riley, dean of the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.

“Teacher preparation residencies show great promise, including strong findings that their graduates are more diverse and stay longer in the profession,” Kantor says. “Clear definitions of residency practices and research evidence to support investment in the model’s critical elements, however, are lacking. This study will help fill the gap in the existing research.”

Teacher residencies, often compared to medical residencies, offer yearlong experiences co-teaching with accomplished teachers as a central part of the preparation of novice teachers. The first of its kind in the country, this study will determine the components of residency programs that serve as quality indicators of teacher effectiveness. Ultimately, the research will provide the state with the capacity to assess the quality of teacher residency programs, follow the transition of residents into the first years of teaching, and evaluate their investment.

Kantor and Riley say that the quality of a child’s teacher has been identified as the single most important in-school factor in educational attainment.

“Even in relatively high performing districts, Colorado faces challenges recruiting, preparing, hiring, supporting and retaining highly effective teachers. Without a well-prepared, stable educator workforce, the state will not be able to reach its educational goals,” Riley says. “Teacher residencies provide a balanced approach to teacher preparation that combines classroom-based experience with academics and theoretical foundations to create a comprehensive learning experience. Teacher candidates graduate with skills in what to do, the theoretical understanding of why methods are effective, and the foundational knowledge of how to modify practice when necessary.”

The research is considered the first large-scale project of its kind to bring together collaborators that represent both the institutions where the teachers are trained, as well as the schools in which they teach. Data from this two-year study are expected to inform best practices in teacher training across the country.

This IES award is one of 15 nation-wide grants from the National Center for Education Research (NCER). The nation-wide grants total more than $12 million and are intended to foster partnerships between researchers and practitioners to study education policies, programs and practices.

Morgridge College of Education alumna Kendra Carpenter (ELPS, ’16) has been selected by the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP) and the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) to be the 2017 recipient of the Reba Ferguson Memorial Rookie of the Year Award. The award is given annually to a Colorado administrator in his or her first three years as an elementary school principal and honors elementary school principal Reba Ferguson, who tragically died in a traffic accident on her way to work in 2008. Carpenter is in her first year as principal of the Dillon Valley Dual Immersion Elementary School in Dillon, Colorado.

“I feel honored to be recognized in the name of Reba Ferguson,” said Carpenter. “Although I did not have the privilege of knowing her, I have heard what an amazing leader she was and know I have big shoes to fill to live up to her name.”

To win the award, Carpenter needed to be in her first three years as a principal and demonstrate remarkable leadership qualities, allowing her to make a positive impact as an instructional leader, community leader, and/or innovative leader.

Carpenter has worked for Dillon Valley Elementary for over 15 years, with a focus on diversity with its dual language model. Her passion is working with families and teachers to create an engaging environment where all learners will be successful.

According to Carpenter, the support she receives from both The University of Denver and her Morgridge Mountain Cohort is invaluable.

“These two entities continually help me grow my leadership skills,” she said.

Her goals for the future include continuing to work to create inclusive learning spaces where the whole child is honored, individualized professional development for teachers, and maintaining high expectations for all learners.

Carpenter will receive the award on Thursday, July 27 at the CASE Summer Convention in Breckenridge, Colorado.

The Morgridge College of Education commons area was home to an overflow crowd of family, friends, faculty, and soon-to-be graduates at this year’s Graduate Reception. The event celebrated all MCE graduates and featured remarks from Dean Karen Riley, who encouraged graduates to “put the ladder down” for those who follow in their footsteps.

A live jazz band added to the festive occasion, accented by a live stream of hashtagged photos and a video memory corner where graduates recorded their favorite Morgridge memory and left words of inspiration to future students.

To see tagged event photos, search #MCEgrad17 and view the entire reception photo gallery here.

Congratulations to all graduates who go forth to be Morgridge agents of change!

Teina McConnell and Eric Ward wear a lot of hats. In addition to both being doctoral students in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program, they also make up the leadership team at Pickens Technical College in Aurora, CO. McConnell serves as the executive director; Ward is the assistant director.

They now share an additional title: Directors of the #1 Best Community College in Colorado as ranked by Bestcolleges.com. The national ranking organization evaluated variables such as graduation rates, program offerings and tuition costs.

McConnell sites PTC’s student completion, placement, and licensure rate as qualities that helped her college rise to the level of recognition.

Ward agrees with this assessment.

“The last couple years, we have really focused on the completion and placement rates of our students. We have spent a lot of time cultivating relationships within our community that provide employment opportunities for our students. Many of our programs have a reputation of producing top-quality students that are more than ready to make an immediate impact on the

Teina McConnell

company that hires them,” Ward said.

According to McConnell, PTC places a strong emphasis on hiring the most qualified industry experts and equips them with tools and pedagogy necessary to become effective teachers.

“Pickens does contextual and applied academics inside of work-based learning that results in nationally recognized industry based certificates. We incorporate industry input in everything we do through Occupational Advisory Committees,” McConnell said.

McConnell points to the fact that many businesses that hire PTC students support the college through a number of additional initiatives.

Eric Ward

“Subaru of North America recently donated three cars and an engine to our automotive services program for our students to work on and have provided an opportunity for our students to earn their level 2 Subaru certification that is transportable across the world,” Ward said.

“Much of what I am doing right now to retool our career advisors is a result of the work I have done so far in my program (at Morgridge) . . . It is an ongoing process, but we are certainly making progress,” McConnell said.

Ward agrees, “One of the benefits of the Morgridge program is the diverse individuals with a wealth of expertise and knowledge that make up the cohort. Also, I believe that the experience and backgrounds of the professors and adjunct enhance the learning experience.”

Morgridge College congratulates McConnell and Ward on their work to bring educational and career-building opportunities through their leadership at the #1 Community College in Colorado.

Morgridge College of Education (MCE) held its annual Hooding Ceremony in the Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall Commons on June 8, 2017. A total of 35 PhD and EdD graduates and candidates received the honorary doctoral hood from their faculty advisor.

After Dean Karen Riley’s welcome, each graduate was hooded by their faculty advisor and given a chance to share comments with the audience. Common themes of the doctoral reflections focused on overcoming obstacles, the impact of MCE faculty, the support of the student cohort, and the goal of creating more equitable opportunities for all.

The Hooding Ceremony is a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation of academic doctors to the next. Please see the entire Hooding Ceremony photo gallery on Flickr.

Kayanne Klipka, a 2017 graduate from the LIS program, is a featured student on DU’s special Commencement website. The following story, written by Jeremy Jones from DU’s Marketing and Communication Office, appears below.

As students across the country prepare for commencement, many will be faced with the important question of “now what?” Whether it’s continuing with their education, entertaining job offers or taking time to see the world, many are relying on a firm plan to guide their next steps.

For Kayanne Klipka, however, there is an excitement in not knowing exactly where the future will take her. Instead, she’ll let her own curiosity guide the way.

“My plans after graduation are to hold plans loosely,” says Klipka, who is earning her master’s in library information science (LIS) from the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. “I’ve got an insatiable sense of curiosity and a pretty adaptable attitude. Hopefully with [my degree], my laptop and connections made at DU, I’ll be off on some pretty interesting adventures.”

The only adventure Klipka has planned at this point is a summer trip to Medellin, Colombia, where she plans to learn Ruby (a computer programming language), salsa and Spanish. After that, your guess is as good as hers — and that’s the way she likes it.

Spending time to experience another culture is well-deserved for someone who has spent the last two years working hard to earn her master’s while at the same time proving her theory that “all librarians are actually mad scientists,” a humorous statement she takes somewhat seriously.

Klipka has learned a lot as a graduate student, and having basically lived out of Ruffatto Hall during that time, she jokingly admits that she now knows which microwave heats soup most effectively and what corners are best for squeezing in a quick power nap between work and class.

“But seriously, my tenure at DU has been unique,” says Klipka, who worked as a graduate research assistant at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy. “While most of my library school colleagues are graduating with a couple years of traditional library experience —which no doubt will serve them incredibly well in their careers — I’ve been practicing research data management on a true academic research team. I really think it has expanded my thinking about research and where else my library school skills can be applied.”

At Marsico, Klipka worked on a project referred to as LT Studies, or “learning trajectories.” Over the course of two years, she and other DU students spent time in preschool classrooms conducting math instruction with small groups of children using two different methods: traditional and learning trajectories — a more conscientious and tailored approach based on a child’s development, Klipka says.

In addition to her studies, the people Klipka has met, worked with and learned from have made her DU experience a memorable one.
“There have been so many people helping me through these last two years. I have felt wholeheartedly supported by my advisor Mary Stansbury, Professor Krystyna Matusiak and Kate Crowe, curator of special collections and archives,” Klipka says. “These women have helped me find my research interests, encouraged me to build collections around student activism and racial and ethnic minority students, and write and present research at conferences.”

Klipka also praised Stansbury for her receptiveness to the feedback she provided about the LIS program.

“I urged the LIS faculty to center more curriculum around serving diverse populations and recognizing our own biases. In response, Dr. Stansbury fought for funding to integrate the Intercultural Development Inventory into part of LIS student requirements,” Klipka says, adding that the integration enables students to recognize their own perspectives while becoming more interculturally competent.

With just a few days remaining until commencement, Klipka is preparing for her summer and is looking forward to seeing where her curiosity takes her. For those preparing to enter graduate school, Klipka encourages them to explore all the possibilities.

“Grad school is exactly what you make of it,” she says. “If you know what you want to do when you’re coming into a grad program, work like crazy at it but always leave yourself open to new opportunities.”

Libby Malone, Child, Family & School Psychology (CFSP) alumna (EdS ’15) is featured in the Career Spotlight of this month’s National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Early Career Professionals Digest. Malone works for the Denver Public Schools at West Early College in Denver, CO. She is versed in teaching mindfulness to students in classroom settings, using culturally responsive interventions and assessments, and strives to explain assessment results in parent-friendly language.

In the interview below, which originally appeared on the NASP Communities website, Malone talks about her first-year challenges and gives advice to professionals entering the field.

Where do you work?
I work as a school psychologist for Denver Public Schools at West Early College, a 6th-12th grade innovation school. My school is in a large old high school building and we share the campus with two other schools, another 6th-12th grade program and a 17-21 year old program for students who are behind on credits.

What are your areas of expertise at this point in your career?
At this point in my career I feel confident explaining assessment results in parent friendly language, teaching mindfulness to students in a classroom setting, and using culturally responsive interventions and assessments for families and students.

What challenges have you faced in your early career, and how have you handled them?
A challenge that I faced during my first year of practice, and am still working on, is managing anxiety. During my graduate program my professors touched on self-care and mentioned the need for leaving work at work, but it wasn’t something that we discussed in depth. During my internship, I felt confident in my abilities as an independent practitioner. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time with my supervisor and relied on her more as I think it may have eased some of the anxiety I experienced during my first year.

The anxiety started right before the school year when I experienced my first panic attack. I became cold, but sweaty and my heart raced while a feeling a complete dread washed over me. For the next two months I struggled to sleep at night as I would catastrophize every negative outcome that could happen to my students. I worked in an urban, Title I school with students who had experienced trauma and the effects of poverty. My school also had a center for students with Serious Emotional Disabilities so I had students who were challenging behaviorally with some severe case histories along with all of my other students, many of whom had high levels of social emotional needs, as well. I would be fine during the day, I did my job effectively and managed student needs with confidence; however, I would go home and question everything I had done, what I could have missed, if I was an imposter, etc. The panic attack that I had experienced in the summer became an almost nightly ritual and I was exhausted physically and emotionally before we made it to Thanksgiving Break.

As the year went on I began to reach out to my colleagues and friends more, exercise regularly, and tried therapy. While the anxiety would still flare up, whether from a hard day or from the fear that since I wasn’t currently anxious I must have missed something, I had fewer of the sleepless nights and all-consuming feelings of dread.

What advice do you have for other early career school psychologists?
My advice for other early career school psychologists is to lean in to your support networks. You are not alone with the weight of your work. Personally, I have school counselors and a school social worker that I work closely with. Debriefing, sharing tasks, and sometimes just venting with them has made me a better practitioner along with decreasing my anxiety about being solely responsible for anything that happens to our students. During that first year I wish I had felt more comfortable opening up to my friends from graduate school about how I was feeling, but I was ashamed of my inability to control my own emotions when my entire job focused on helping students learn to control theirs. In my second year, I have opened up to my friends and we use each other as sound boards around interventions, assessments, and more. I now realize that many of them had the same worries and experiences I did and I had nothing to feel ashamed about.

Something else that has helped me this year is reminding myself that although my job is important and I am a necessary part of my student’s school day, if I have advocated for their needs, reported safety concerns, and addressed any immediate issues presented to me, I have to be okay with the job I have done for the day. It is unfair to my fiancé, who is also a school psychologist, and myself to go home and catastrophize about every student I interacted with that day. I am responsible for supporting them during the school day and making sure they are safe, but I cannot feel responsible for everything that happens in their lives outside of my sphere of influence with them. I still have a hard time convincing myself of this fact, but it has increased my ability to sleep at night and function during the weekends exponentially.

I am great at promoting coping skills and self-care to my colleagues and families. Learning to use those skills myself has been challenging, but I know I am getting better and becoming a more effective school psychologist through this practice.

How has your NASP membership benefited you?
My NASP membership has benefited me by allowing me access to more resources for my students and my practice. I appreciate the early career emails, the member exchange digest, and the reduced prices offered on conventions, conferences, and many other resources available for purchase. I know that NASP recognizes me as an early career school psychologist and understands the financial strains that we may face and offering a reduced price membership has made it possible for me to keep my membership current.

Curriculum and Instruction students, Elizabeth Carey and Desiree Seide, were selected for the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s (CDHE) inaugural Aspiring Educator Honor Roll and were acknowledged at the state capitol on Monday, May 8.

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation week, the ceremony recognized two outstanding students from Colorado’s 22 educator preparation programs. CDHE Executive Director Dr. Kim Hunter Reed gave remarks in the West Lobby of the capitol.

“This ceremony recognizes the tremendous impact our future educators will have on their students and the state of Colorado broadly,” said Dr. Reed. “Educators are training the next generation of artists, engineers, scientists and health professionals that will power our economy and enliven our communities. They truly make all other professions possible. We want all teachers and administrators—and especially our young educators—to know Coloradans support and appreciate their invaluable work.”

Elizabeth Carey

Elizabeth Carey, Curriculum and Instruction graduate student, was born and raised in Chicago, IL and received her undergraduate degree in psychology from University of Denver in 2016. Carey has excelled academically in the Teacher Education Program, where she worked to build professional and caring relationships with both her mentor teacher and her students at Cory Elementary. As an apprentice teacher in Denver Public Schools, Carey has demonstrated commitment to honoring her students’ diversity and unique needs. She maintains a high degree of professionalism and strives to craft differentiated lessons for her students that meet and exceed the Colorado Academic Standards.

Desiree Seidel

Desiree Seidel, Curriculum and Instruction/Teacher Education Program graduate student, is a passionate and gifted educator who knows how to create a classroom that is engaging, challenging, and responsive to the individual learning needs of her students. She combines her beliefs on teaching, pedagogical techniques, rapport with students, content knowledge expertise, and professionalism into a highly effective classroom teaching style. Her teaching is guided by the belief that all students can learn and it is her responsibility to find the right balance between teacher learning-objectives and student learning-abilities. Seidel graduated Cum Laude from the University of Denver with a bachelor of arts degree in English with a concentration in education and minors in Spanish and psychology.


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