This fall, the School of Education welcomes four new faculty members. Today, we introduce Leanda Parris, who is joining our School Psychology faculty.
Tell us a little about your background and what brought you to W&M.
I’m originally from South Carolina, though I spent half of the year in the Virginia Beach area. I graduated from Georgia State University, where I completed a cognate in crisis prevention and intervention implementation and took part in a specialized workgroup that focused on social justice in education. During my time there I mostly worked within the Atlanta community to provide psychoeducational services to victims of bullying and did some investigations of cyberbullying, which at the time was more of a new topic. I did my internship in Dallas Independent School District and focused mostly on crisis response with both individuals and at the school level. After graduating, I joined the school psychology faculty at Illinois State University, where I worked on a federally-funded grant responsible for implementing a healthy relationship curriculum with high school students. I also worked with a second team to create a trauma-informed intervention program for addressing peer victimization (called TIPPS) not just for victims, but for all students who seemed to be exposed to, or engaged in, peer aggression or negative peer relationships in middle schools. Both projects included a strong partnership with local schools. After six years I decided I wanted to focus more on my social justice efforts and found that William & Mary was very focused on social justice in the classroom and across the community. That, along with the excellent school psychology faculty that I already knew here, is why I ultimately decided to come to William & Mary. As a bonus, it also meant coming back to the east coast and much closer to the community and family that I grew up with.
What’s your area of research and what question are you most passionate about answering right now?
Right now, I am working on the development of a social media rumination scale with the grant team back at ISU. We’re very excited because it’s not something that anyone has really looked at, to the point we had to develop our own measure to investigate it. I’m interested in how often youth think about social media and how that impacts their psychosocial functioning. I’m also excited to get back to revising the TIPPS curriculum and hopefully start implementing that in local schools in the coming years. I’m excited to show how a trauma-informed approach can be much more effective when intervening not only with victims of peer aggression but perpetrators and bystanders as well.
Which class are you most looking forward to teaching?
Right now, I think the Prevention and Intervention in Public Schools course. This course will allow me to draw from my clinical and training experiences related to crisis intervention and prevention. It’s a very timely topic and something I have always enjoyed teaching. It will also give the students a chance to become certified in a crisis response curriculum, which they can hopefully use moving forward in their careers.
What else are you hoping to get involved with on campus or in the community?
I’m currently part of our national association’s committee on social justice, so I’m looking forward to integrating some of that work with my efforts here on campus. I’m also hoping to start building collaborations with schools in the region — including crisis intervention trainings and hopefully TIPPS at some point. In the past, the majority of my work was what I call service-minded research, where everything I do gives back to the community in some way (trainings, intervention services). I hope to build that program back up here at William & Mary.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s good to be home!