November 13, 2017

GFPS School Psychologist Wins Award


During School Psychology Awareness Week we want to acknowledge the efforts of school psychologists locally and across the state. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has designated November 13–17, 2017 as National School Psychology Awareness Week. This year’s theme, “Power Up! Be a Positive Charge,” aims to highlight the many ways that individual actions—large and small—that make positive connections can spark positive change.

There are 147 certified school psychologists in Montana and we presently have a staff of 10 here in Great Falls as well as two school psychologists who currently hold other district level positions and one intern for a total of 13 school psychologists in the Student Services department.

We know that all children and youth learn best when they are healthy, supported, and receive an education that enables them to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Children’s mental health is directly linked to their learning and development, and the learning environment provides an optimal context to promote good mental health through connectedness within the school and community.

School psychologists help children to thrive by nurturing their individual strengths across both personal and academic endeavors; and School psychologists are trained to assess student and school-based barriers to learning as well as individual strengths, utilize data-based decision-making, implement research-driven prevention and intervention strategies, and evaluate outcomes and improve accountability.

School psychology has over 60 years of well established, widely recognized, and highly effective practice and standards that are clearly articulated in NASP’s Model for Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services; and School psychologists are specially trained to foster and deliver, in the school and community, a continuum of mental health services and academic supports that lower barriers to teaching and learning

We are happy to share in recognizing not only National School Psychology Awareness week but in honoring Jessica Carranza, a GFPS School Psychologist who received the 2017 Montana School Psychologist of the Year award at the Fall Conference of the Montana Association of School Psychologists that was held in October. Jessica has worked for Great Falls Public Schools for five years and her nominators shared that she embraces her role as a school psychologist with confidence. She develops trusting relationships with families while working with students and she collaborates with teachers in the classrooms on a regular basis to observe, develop academic and behavior plans, collect data and see how children are progressing.

Jessica has been involved with agencies outside the school district such as Headstart, Quality Life Concepts, STEM Expo, Children’s Receiving Home, Children’s Museum of Great Falls, YWCA, Cameron Family Center, Rescue Mission, and Junior League. She is on the executive council for the Montana Association of School Psychologists and is a member of the National Association of School Psychologists, and a member of Junior League International.

Her nominators also shared that Jessica is very dedicated, supportive of her colleagues, passionate about her field, and that she really cares about students and helping them grow academically, emotionally, and behaviorally. She does her job with a “whatever it takes” attitude, believing she can make a positive impact – a “Positive Charge” in her schools. 

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