From the well-known teachers to the familiar faces of the janitorial staff, there are many staff members that work together to make Van Buren High School function. There is one friendly face that plays a key role at Van Buren, but surprisingly might not be as familiar to the students in this small school. Her name is Amy Kennard, VB’s very own school psychologist.
Mrs. Kennard is employed through the Hancock County Educational Service Center as a K-12 school psychologist, she serves both Van Buren and Liberty Benton schools. While many students have only heard about school psychologists coming in after major tragedies, this job entitles much more than that. Mrs. Kennard explained that her job reaches out to students, teachers, parents, community agencies and the school system itself as well.
She helps the general education staff with the common goal of including all children in their educational program. If a student is struggling in the classroom, she works to develop a plan that will identify the problem, analyze the data and a progress monitoring process to determine if the “plan” is helping the student become more successful in the classroom. Also, she is trained in using different tests to evaluate a student’s ability to learn.
On a daily basis, Mrs. Kennard has a variety of jobs to help fully evaluate a student in need. After she performs evaluations, she takes the time to score them and each student’s assessment results are compiled in a 7-17 page report, which obviously requires many hours to complete. She also observes students and consults with teachers and parents regarding a particular student. The process concludes with a meeting where the report is shared with other professionals and a decision is made if the student needs specialized instruction.
How does this affect Van Buren High School? She works on an “as needed” basis and is brought in if a student needs an intervention plan. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Mrs. Kennard comes in to check in with the school and she could also be brought in to assist in a tragedy. In the event of a tragedy, she is trained in coordination intervention and has specific strategies for management of individual or school wide crises. Mrs. Kennard explained that she works hand-in-hand with teachers, parents, other professionals, and the principal to help achieve a common goal of improving a student’s learning experience.
What first sparked Mrs. Kennard’s interest in being a school psychologist is her love for kids. She spent a lot of time watching and admiring her mother, a first grade teacher, work with children. Also she said she is a very “but why?” person, which brought about her passion for psychology.
“Being a school psychologist allows me to play detective, putting together clues and hints, just so we can maybe understand what it is that bothers ‘Sally’ so much that she can’t make any friends at all.”
Being a school psychologist has had a big impact on Mrs. Kennard’s life. She stated that, “To see a student who had been 'sent away' from his school because of significantly inappropriate behavior, return to his home school after an intensive program of intervention and succeed...to have a child read to you when only months before that child was certain she would never read...to see the face of a severely delayed child light up when he is able to manipulate a switch that turns on a radio.. these are all priceless experiences.”
Even if Mrs. Kennard doesn’t affect every student personally, she plays a big role at Van Buren and helps struggling students get the most out of their education which in turns makes everyone’s high school experience a little better.