Recent Posts


Posted on April 08,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Bubbles. Round, iridescent, and fragile, bopping along in the breeze until a gust dashes them against an unforgiving surface, shattering their short and playful existence. Sometimes our kids have days that remind me of this tumultuous dance. They arrive at school, cheerful, dressed in the rainbow of colors that is the latest in the all the stores. There is a skip in their step, but also a sort of obliviousness that comes with a happy spring day and a lack of executive functioning. Sometime unexpected happens, dashing their delicate sense of self against the unforeseen and shattering their mood.
My “drop ins” all have various forms of this scenario that disrupt their days. You can’t really repair a bubble, but, where there is one bubble there are usually hundreds. So, my job really is to help them identify what burst their bubble and then to identify a new bubble that can carry them through the rest of the day. Eventually I’d like to upgrade them to the more resilient balloon, but as young children I am content to see the carefree bubbles dancing in the breeze.

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Summer Breeze Makes Me Feel Fine

Posted on March 27,2014 by sthurstonmspp

The school year feels as if it’s winding down… and it doesn’t. Getting through the month of March for any educator is always the last long push before the spring rolls by- there are no breaks, no long weekends in an endless haze of snow, mud, and MCAS. April 1st is in sight, and rumor of a sixty degree day over the weekend has everyone contemplating digging out their grills to take advantage.
I am already registered for summer classes (and given up nearly every single day of it) and am beginning the process of interviewing for jobs this fall. This process of looking ahead -which we are constantly doing in schools via IEPs, annual goals, and MCAS prep- makes me feel as though my vacations are already spent and make me desperate for some time to myself. I intend to spend some of this weekend in self care, doing my best to ignore all of the final papers I have to finish writing in favor of some quality time outside. Wish me luck!

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I guess that's why they call it the blues

Posted on March 07,2014 by sthurstonmspp

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Tagged Personal Growth, School Psychology

Preemptive Nostalgia

Posted on February 25,2014 by sthurstonmspp

As has been previously mentioned, I am a graduate of Wesleyan University. That’s Wesleyan. Not Wellesley. Don’t ask me why, but every time I told someone where I was going, they said “Oh, the all-girls school?” I believe there was even a shirt printed joking to that effect sometime in my sophomore year. Our desire for clarification had nothing to do with the caliber of either school, but rather was related to our fierce pride in all the things Wes had to offer, in the way we believed we were pushing boundaries and being someone new. Last night, How I Met Your Mother had a scene depicting a flash forward to two of the characters dropping their son off at their alma mater, Wes, and then heading to the local watering hole (Eli Cannon’s!). As the writers are Wes Alums, these types of scenes happen occasionally and always make me smile with happy memory.
Bear with me. I am going somewhere with this. I am graduating from the MA/CAGS program in June (yay!) and am positively SHOCKED that three years have gone by. And while the glories of grad school are far different than the memories of college, there are the same moments of self reflection and growing edges that I will look back and reflect upon with misty smiles. I expect we all feel proud of MSPP, of the education we have had here, the field expectations, and its new building that finally reflects the quality within. I sometimes still get the blank, confused stare when I say I attend MSPP, but then, I am used to that. It is happening less and less often as reputations of the quality professionals take root in the area, and I look forward to the day when conference presenters make reference to “1208” and The Great Debate About Free Printing” and I can chuckle at the memories along with the crowd.

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Tagged School Psychology

Pearls of Wisdom... no, really!

Posted on February 06,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Among the myriad of Facebook posts (Side note: Facebook is 10?? Really? It makes me feel old to remember a time [high school!] before Facebook existed) there was the all too familiar link to a quasi-deep post that makes my eyes roll before I even finish reading. Then, however, I noticed who had posted it. Not a typical person to go in for the Oprah-like messages of transcendent learning. So I checked it out. And, I have to say, you should too.
One the reflections offered was the following:
Do not carry broken people who are not in the process of rebuilding themselves.
There have been a lot of professors who have said this in a lot of different ways. One metaphor that has stuck in my mind was shared by a man who taught us counseling: “As school psychologists we are flashlights. We can shine a light on a person’s growing edges, show them the way to bettering themselves, but it is up to them to change, to want to change.”
I truly believe this. You can lead a horse to water, and all that. But in some places, such as schools and courts, our clients are not seeking us out for change. They are assigned to us, or mandated. The real task, then, lies in guiding the person to desire change as if it were their own idea. I have been struggling with this for almost 3 months with one of my students, until today when she finally said “I wonder why I don’t have as many friends as Sarah.” Bingo, a way in! Wish me luck!

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Tagged Personal Growth, Counseling Psychology, School Psychology

Kid President

Posted on January 31,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Maybe some of you are more in touch with trending videos than I am and have heard of Kid President. Maybe this is new to you, too. Regardless, you should watch some of his videos, like the one here:

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Tagged School Psychology

What Lies Ahead

Posted on January 27,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Around here when the wind howls it shakes the ducts in our ceiling. There is a resulting metallic clang of thunder which sounds ominous as it echos through the drop ceiling of our office. It is the perfect sound for a Monday morning.
There is not a lot on the docket this morning: 4 meetings, and some classroom observations, and one block of coverage for the math specialist who is out today. However, classwork has kicked into high gear, with a lot of reading and responses. I also have multiple assessment cases (finally!) which all need testing completed and reports written. Additionally, spring is lurking just around the corner. This is usually cause for smiles and fond thoughts of purple crocuses erupting out of the ground overnight. This year, though, it brings thoughts of resumes, letters of recommendation, and the ever intimidating Job Hunt.
We have done mock drafts of this Event every year, applied to many field sites and brought out our best outfits for the interviews. We have all turned in our resumes to our supervisors for editing and overhaul, and are thankful for all of the experience provided by MSPP’s program that fills its pages.
What intimidates me, and reverberates through my brain at the quiet moments between activities in time with the thundering ducts above me, is the thought that my Career will begin with whatever choices I make next. While I have an idea of what I would like my job to look like, I am aware that compromises will most likely have to be made. Which means I will have to make some choices... and what if I make the wrong ones? I have been so fortunate to love my job prior to graduate school, to love all my field placements, and yet I worry I won’t know what I have gotten myself into until it is too late. For the first time, I need to get the most out of an interview, to understand the community I am applying to, and make sure it is a fit for me. This is not a temporary situation, a time when a bad match can be chalked up to a learning experience with the knowledge that the following year will be different.
So, I will quietly tell myself that no job has to be forever, and that I will take my time to make good choices (despite my lack of income over the past 3 years). I know I am ready to be a great school psychologist, and I will remain hopeful that I will find a school system that fits me!

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The School Psychology Department’s Annual Holiday Party

Posted on January 09,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Everybody likes free food, especially when it’s pizza. What makes it even better, however, is the company you find yourself in. Year 1s, Year 2s, Year 3s, alumni, and PsyD students mingling with the forces who have shaped our program and are our resources in the field. There are hugs and handshakes, discussions of the School Psychology Softball team mascot (I vote for the Platy.... platypuses? Platypi?). The panel, representing a spectrum of experiences in “the job” speaks to the crowd about their satisfaction on the job and seems to repeat in so many different ways that the one thing that makes our job great and that makes us great at our jobs is that we go out and get what we want. We can make this job our own.
As School Psychologists, even a neophyte like myself (and yes, that was my position on the panel!) recognizes that above all else we are flexible. We wear so many different hats, provide support to a myriad of clients that can take on so many different forms, that we are like the undeniably cool platypus: hard to categorize, at first glance a heady combination of many different skills and pieces, and yet one complete and efficiently evolved being. Also, we are undeniably cool, too.
As such creatures, it is important that we stay ahead of the curve on many different fronts. Sometimes it feels like everything can affect our day to day experiences, from the clear impact of the tragedy at Sandy Hook to the less obvious downturns in the stock market causing an increase in the stress level of home lives of our kids.
How do we possibly stay abreast of all of these items, let alone distill the information into manageable and applicable pieces of information? Well, we help each other, of course. Resources are vital. The Communique, various blogs and news outlets, and of course, our own Out In Front.

Check it out: Out In Front

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And so the Pendulum swings back...

Posted on January 07,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Many of us are aware of the negative effects of suspension and expulsion on children. And yet, it happens anyways. I have often been referred to as “the softie” when I advocate for other means of consequences for a child’s actions by the adults who think that suspension is the only way to change a student’s behavior. Unfortunately, it is those adults who usually have the final say.
Zero tolerance policies have increased this behavior in adults, and we hear sensationalized stories of five year olds being suspended for having a rubber band on the bus. Rumor has begun, however, that indicates the pendulum to finally be swinging the other way. Hooray!

Zero Tolerance Reconsidered by the New York Times

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Tagged School Psychology

Season's greetings!

Posted on December 20,2013 by sthurstonmspp

Santa’s elves have been skipping through the hallways of the elementary school all morning. While the day before a vacation always puts an extra spring in everyone’s step, today’s cheerful imps are buoyed by the gifts and good cheer they are spreading to their teachers.
A lot of my students this year are old enough to bake themselves, and proudly tell me so as they pass over a bag of sugar cookies. Students who have been loud and boisterous all year in the lunch groups I facilitate are suddenly shy and whisper their “Merry Christmas” but look up and grin when I exclaim over the home made card and pin it up on my wall.
I am happy to say that most boys and girls use their pleases and thank yous. But I notice that very few realize how much a small gesture of their own work can make the adults in their life feel special. The candles and chocolates are lovely and will be enjoyed, but the hand made card from your little one brings me joy all year round!

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Tagged School Psychology