School Psychology’s newest opportunity

MINOT, N.D. – Minot State University’s School Psychology program is connecting with other programs nationwide.

On Feb. 12, the program went to the 2024 National Association of School Psychology (NASP) Conference in New Orleans. This immersive experience connected MSU with other school psychologists nationwide to build work relationships and is also a learning experience for all who attend. 

Penny Craven, director of the School Psychology program, wrote a program-changing grant making it possible for students finically to attend the NASP conference. 

“I came here to build the school psychology program. I wanted to be a part of training the next generation,” said Craven. “This has been a good opportunity because we can make this our own program and serve the needs of North Dakota along with the nation. We have been able to give the students a lot of opportunities with this grant.”

The program earned an unprecedented North Dakota School Psychology Service Professional Demonstration Grant (ND SP Service Grant) U.S. Department of Education grant in 2023, partnering with the Bureau of Indian Education-Turtle Mountain Schools and Education Program Administrator Casey Sovo.

The Belcourt School District and Minot State work closely together to support the students in their learning and give experience to the Education Specialist program students. 

Zachary Anderson, a first-year student in the program, notes the distinctiveness of MSU’s program.

“School psychology is a very immersive and practicum-based program. It is a little different than a traditional graduate program. A lot of them are research-based, but this one is hands-on and what you would see in the field,” said Anderson. “Once I learned about School Psychology, I found an immediate spark. It was good work that needed to be done.”

Anderson sees the MSU School Psychology program as a chance to give back to the community he grew up in.  

“I grew up in the Turtle Mountain area and am of Indigenous background, so I think what I look to bring back the most is not only this insight into how to serve students better of different cultures and different backgrounds but how could I also do my part in becoming a better advocate for students who may need that voice. Just being able to serve the place that I come from, having that awareness to be the best employee I can be and the best advocate for students is what I want to take away most.”  

Kandace Desjarlais, a third-year school psychology student, is in her internship year. She looked forward to this conference and to building on the skills she learned last year.

“Last year was my first time attending the conference. What I really looked forward to is the PREPaRE training,” she said. “It is a crisis model training where you look at preventing the crisis. Last year I took PREPaRe workshop one and two training. This year, I was able to train to become the trainer, and I will be able to come back to my community and teach the PREPaRe model.”

The NASP conference allows Desjarlais to be one of the few people in the state of North Dakota with this training. Craven emphasized how this opportunity gives students the ability to grow in the field. 

“It helps students connect to the field in a bigger way,” she said. “When you are a school psychologist, you are an island, you must be a jack of all trades. Sometimes, you do not feel supported, so, people often burn out and leave the field.” 

The students of the program are also equally excited about this surplus of knowledge they will be exposed to, identifying the benefits that they can gain from it. 

“I think a conference like NASP, there is just a plethora of knowledge that you want and the chance to go and learn from them is priceless. It allows you to bring back the things you learned to your community,” Anderson said. 

According to Craven, there is limitless potential for the MSU School Psychology program. Due to the five-year ND SP Service Grant, MSU can now fully support eight students in the 2024 cohort. Along with all expenses paid with the comprehensive grant, events like the NASP conference are a reality.

“We are the only School Psychology program in the state of North Dakota. We are also a nationally certified School Psychology program, so you will leave certified,” Craven said. “This grant will fully support 28 students during the three-year program. This grant is comprehensive, it includes everything, tuition books, everything. You can leave without any loans.

“The conference is a big deal and without the grant, they may not get to go otherwise.”  

The current students are also heavily appreciative of the opportunities they are given through the program and cannot wait to learn more. 

“Minot State is providing a lot of opportunities for their students to learn and to grow,” Anderson said. “I think that when you think of all the things together, I am just happy to be able to learn here.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 02/23/24   

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