Fall Conference

Registration is OPEN for this year's annual Fall Conference. We will be back at the beautiful Davenport Hotel from 10/17-10/19/19!

Archived Spring Lecture Series

You can now access previously aired Spring Lecture Series, dating back to 2014, for a discounted price! Please go here for more information.

President's Message

I am so excited and honored to be your new WSASP President!  

Two years ago, I was happily involved with WSASP as an Area Representative and Communications Committee Chair but it had never occurred to me run for higher office, when then-President Tracy Pennington-Branen asked if I would run for President.   My first thought was “Not me!”  But, over the next several months, with encouragement from Tracy and others on the WSASP Board, I came to think “OK, maybe in a few years,” and then “Yes, I could do this, I could run for President-Elect now.”

The past year has been full of opportunities to learn from past and present WSASP officers and making plans for my presidency.    In February I went to the NASP conference in Atlanta and participated in the Regional Leadership Meetings and the Assistance to States sessions.  It was exciting to see what other state associations are doing and to get ideas for making some changes to our association that will allow us to better serve both our members and all school psychologists in Washington state.

 I have two areas of interest that I want to promote as President of WSASP:  Connections and Self-Care.  These have been areas of interest for me for a long time. 

A little about my background:  When I went to college, my plan was to become a high school counselor.  I majored in psychology, but then I learned that school counselors don’t actually get to do a lot of counseling.  I decided to become a clinical psychologist.   I went to the University of Colorado in Boulder—a beautiful place!   While my focus was on psychotherapy with children and families, I found I really enjoyed doing assessments.   After I earned my MA, I got a job as a psychotherapist in a self-contained special education program for middle school students at risk for out-of-home placement.   I thought I was going to focus on individual psychotherapy; who knew I would end up back in special ed!    My dissertation was about Social Support and Stressful Life Events.   No surprise:  social support is a good thing, stress is not.  Now we talk about social/emotional learning and ACES—same song, different lyrics. 

After grad school, I worked in a community mental health center and in a hospital where I mostly worked with older adults who had had strokes and a few younger patients with traumatic brain injuries.   A big part of my work was assessments, both bedside mental status exams, and formal neuropsychological evaluations.   After several years of working in physical rehabilitation, our family moved to Washington for my husband’s job.   We landed in Issaquah, where we have been for the past 23 years.  Our son was 2 when we moved and is now finishing Law School at UW.   I credit his kindergarten teacher with my career change to school psychology.   I was volunteering in the classroom and chatting with the teacher as I was not working that year.   She said, “We always need good school psychologists.”   I don’t think I knew what a school psychologist was, but I called the school psychologist at my son’s  school and talked with her, and she recommended Seattle University.   I was able to take just one or two classes at a time and interned in the Issaquah School District and was hired there.    I have been working in Issaquah for the past 16 years, mostly in a middle school, but I have worked with students from age 2 to 21.  

So here I am, starting a new adventure as President, but still focusing on some of the same interests:  Connections that help us get through tough times—and we know, in our job, sometimes it feels like it is always a tough time. Being a school psychologist can be an isolating job.   We get stuck in our offices, writing reports, and seeing students, sometimes not even getting out of the office for lunch.  Sometimes we are not included on the “All Staff” emails and invitations.   No one else really knows what we do.    That’s why connecting with other school psychologists is so important. 

I have a great group of colleagues in Issaquah and I have another great group with WSASP.   I want to encourage everyone to make connections outside your building, and outside your district.    We can work on our common challenges and build on our common strengths.     There are many opportunities within WSASP to connect with other school psychologists around the state—opportunities that may take as little as a few minutes every few months.    Through WSASP, we can also connect with other groups who have similar interests in supporting the academic progress and mental health of our students.   The more connections we make, the better we feel, the more effective we are, and the more we can support our students.

There are exciting opportunities coming up for school psychologists in Washington.  Glenna Gallo, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education is convening a work group to look at how we qualify students as having a Specific Learning Disability.   More districts are starting to develop Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and we can have an important role in that.

Keep reading the SCOPE and the PWN to learn more about ways to connect and ways to participate with WSASP.

 “We are better together!”

Laurie Engelbeck, Ph.D., NCSP
WSASP President
Issaquah School District

Washington State Association of School Psychologists
PO Box 525
Cheney, WA 99004
contact@wsasp.org
509-724-1587
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