School Psychology and Counselor Education
- 2024, William & Mary, Education Specialist, School Psychology
- 2022, William & Mary, Master of Education, School Psychology
- 2014, Liberty University, Master of Arts, Human Services Counseling: Marriage & Family
- 2009, Norfolk State University, Master of Arts, Criminal Justice
- 2006, Virginia Wesleyan University, Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice
What kind of educational and professional experiences did you have prior to beginning this degree?
I have a diverse background and experience in community mental health services and counseling as well as education. I have spent more than a decade working with children impacted by adverse life experiences, adverse community environments, and foster care services. I also spent several years as a high school special education teacher providing collaborative instruction in Algebra I and Geometry. I served as a transition coordinator supporting students and young adults with disabilities with their postsecondary outcomes for college readiness and workforce readiness and provided service coordination for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at a local community services board. I was also fortunate to spend time at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services where I worked on a national demonstration project conducting organizational readiness assessment, facilitating regional resource mapping, developing a screening tool, and evaluating programs focused on early identification and intervention for children and youth impacted by crime and violence. This national project was funded by the Office of Victims of Crime and is now Virginia H.E.A.L.S, a cross-systems initiative to prevent and mitigate childhood trauma through the implementation of the Trauma-Informed Model of Service Delivery.
As a student pursuing an education specialist degree in School Psychology, why did you choose this field?
I chose to enter into the field of School Psychology because I felt that my multidisciplined experience could be best outside of a classroom and collaborating with schools and the community. Teaching through the pandemic shined a bright light on challenges that schools, teachers, and families face in trying to meet the academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs of children in PK-12 settings. Work is needed to implement socially justice practices that dismantle the inequities and injustices students face, as well as in providing multicultural and trauma-informed services and community partnerships to help bridge the gaps for marginalized and minoritized students. To me, school psychologists stand as the greatest advocates in this work.
I am most motivated creating valuable opportunities to offer students who do not always feel successful at school the chance to feel successful. I strive to reach children and emerging young adults through meaningful contact each day, offering them a safe space to be heard, to feel valued, and to learn from mistakes. It is the recognition that in every moment with a young person we are teaching and learning through our life experiences and we each have the power to lead students on the path towards success in the school setting and into adulthood (postsecondary).
What do you hope to be doing after graduation? In 10 or 15 years?
After graduation, I plan to utilize the skills I have acquired over the years plus my knowledge and experience from the School Psychology program to best inform the supports and services for youth and young adults in postsecondary settings. I have enjoyed working with students and emerging young adults between the ages of 16-25, especially as students are preparing to enter the workforce or settling into college life. I feel that this developmental stage is so unique because it is a period of identity exploration that takes place before individuals make long-term adult commitments — and it is a great time to engage students and to help them work through challenges that can impact their academic success. In the more distant future, about 10 or 15 years, I hope to be a college dean, perhaps in a community college or smaller college community, fostering relationships with my students, community, and shaping young minds to be change agents!
Why did you choose William & Mary and specifically your degree program? What sets this degree program apart from those offered at other colleges?
I chose William & Mary's School Psychology program because of its academic excellence, opportunities to engage in experiential learning opportunities such as research fellowships, and our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Additionally, I found it unique that the program is nestled in education and overlaps with curriculum and instruction, special education, and counseling education.
What greatly stood out to me when I discovered this great work and field of school psychology was that our program represented a diverse staff of professors, unlike the majority of the other programs in Virginia. As a woman of color, it is extremely important for two major reasons. First, the school psychology field is largely underrepresented by clinicians of color, yet the students served through special education programs are largely overrepresented marginalized and minoritized youth groups. Second, expanding research and scholarship in our field is not only important to inform the practices and work that we do, but it is also important to reflect the representation of those who are providing services. While women represent the majority of school psychologists, women are also largely underrepresented in leadership roles and featured publications. Being able to see myself in Dr. Parker and Dr. Parris made William & Mary my ONLY choice.
What has been the most influential experience you've had so far in your program?
My most influential experience has come by way of my research fellowship. I have been able to take an active part in a research study which was presented at the graduate student research symposium and a future opportunity to present the research at the American Counseling Association conference in Toronto, Canada in Spring 2023. Because of the guidance from Dr. Parker (and Dr. Haskins) in action-research, I have been developing an independent research study to expand the scholarship in both school psychology and higher education. As far as courses, I have enjoyed them all thus far. I feel that each course builds on one another and allows for the opportunity to practice and implement skills right away. The most influential in my growth probably has been Psychoeducational Assessment for School Psychologists. Because of Dr. McGill, I have really grown to appreciate the importance of assessment and evaluation and differentiating between "testing." I have also found great joy in some of our "cross-over" courses that have led to more specialized classroom behavior management, instruction, and strategies for students with disabilities and autism as well as the opportunity to earn a certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Of all, I would say that I most enjoyed Multicultural School Psychology because of the importance of intersectionality of various identities and supporting students. Currently, I am enjoying my practicum experience and course in tandem with Developmental Psychopathology and Classroom Management and Positive Behavioral Supports for Students with Disabilities. Through these courses, I am building greater competency as a school psychologist as I am tasked with completing comprehensive evaluations with students and functional behavioral assessments. Next semester, I am looking forward to the opportunity for continued independent study that will foster my interests in the field and provide me with opportunities to work with various community partners.
Any additional information you think a prospective student should know about the School of Education and its degree programs?
William & Mary's School of Education provides students with the opportunity to really foster and support an emerging professional's experience through education, scholarship, and practice. In the school psychology program, I think prospective students will find that each of our professors' unique experiences will shape how you approach the field and contribute to your overall development and professional identity.