This fall, the School of Education welcomes new faculty members. Today, we introduce Rachel Sleeth, who is joining our School Psychology faculty.
Tell us a little about your background and what brought you to W&M.
I am originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, I came to Virginia to James Madison University where I majored in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with concentrations in psychology and social work. After graduating from James Madison University, I worked as a bachelor’s level in-home mental health clinician in Pennsylvania. That’s where I was first exposed to the profession of school psychology. I was able to meet with and observe my clients’ school psychologists at their schools and felt drawn to the field. I applied to several graduate programs but ultimately chose to enroll at William & Mary the next year. I loved my time at William & Mary and created many lasting friendships with my fellow students. I completed my practicum and internship with Henrico County Public Schools.
Except for two years living in Richmond, I have lived in Williamsburg since coming to graduate school. After graduating from William & Mary, I continued to work in Henrico County. I also worked in Newport News Public Schools before staying home for a few years with my children. When I went back to work, I started with Williamsburg James City County Schools and was there for seven years. For the last two years, I also taught one class in the W&M school psychology program as an adjunct. I was excited when this Visiting Assistant Professor position became available. I am looking forward to supporting the school psychology program as the other professors take their well-deserved sabbaticals.
What’s your area of research and what question are you most passionate about answering right now?
For right now, my focus will be on supporting the school psychology program through teaching classes and supporting the students’ field experiences through practicum and internship. Coming from the field, my main interests are in the areas of assessment, identification of learning disabilities (especially dyslexia), and supporting schools’ implementation of science-based reading interventions and MTSS. I believe school psychologists are often in a position to serve as advocates for marginalized populations, so we must learn how to develop our voices. This requires understanding of topics such as the law, how to identify stakeholders and allies, and how public education systems work. I am passionate about school psychologists’ interdisciplinary collaboration with educators in other related fields.
Another interest of mine is characteristics of Gen Z and what makes this new group of students and future educators unique from previous generations. Different generations can learn a lot from each other, each possessing positive traits. I am interested in supporting field-based supervisors in understanding Gen Z’s unique characteristics and how we can all grow as professionals together.
What else are you hoping to get involved with on campus or in the community?
I am excited to support the school psychology students’ organization. I have many ties to local community organizations and school systems, and I am eager to help forge connections between the School of Education and the community. William & Mary is not only my employer, but also my alma mater and integral to my community, so I welcome ways to get involved.
Anything else you’d like to share?
When I’m not at work, you are likely to find me supporting my kids’ schools, driving all over town for carpools, or on the pool deck cheering my kids on at a swim meet! I am thrilled to be a part of W&M full-time and look forward to growing as a professor and as a school psychologist.