Student Support Programs and Services
School Psychologists

Supervisor:
Secretary: Sarah Varga
Contact: (813) 794-2363

Vision

School psychologists in Pasco County work toward improving children's overall quality of life. They work to develop a more tolerant, less violent society and to ensure that children are considered an asset and are important to their community.

Mission Statement

School psychologists in Pasco County seek to create and maintain an atmosphere which fosters the development of academic and social potential in all students. This mission is aligned with the district's vision and philosophy.

Psychological Services

Pasco County school psychologists provide a broad scope of comprehensive services which go beyond the typical referral-based evaluation services so frequently associated with this profession. As members of collaborative interdisciplinary teams, the school psychologists work closely with social workers, nurses, and other professionals to provide services to their schools. This team approach provides comprehensive integrated services with little duplication of process. Services and recommendations are based on the most current knowledge and the latest research available. Services provided by school psychologists include:

  • assessment for intervention
  • counseling services
  • consultation to teachers, parents, administrators, and support staff
  • intervention design and monitoring
  • parent support
  • program development and evaluation
  • serving on crisis-intervention teams
  • consultation with community agencies
  • active involvement with community efforts to build healthy environments for children and families

School psychologists also provide in-service training in the areas of:

  • classroom management
  • stress management
  • depression in youth/suicide prevention
  • social skills training
  • peer mediation
  • peer facilitation
  • dealing with particular medical/psychological conditions
  • other topics as needs arise

Pasco County Schools emphasize continuity of caring. School psychologists provide services to schools and families based on an understanding of the developmental tasks appropriate to individual students and particular goals.

Preschool Psychological Services

The need for preschool intervention strategies and consultation has grown dramatically with this population more than tripling in our public schools over the last ten years. At the prekindergarten level, school psychologists work with teams of social workers, nurses, and speech/language pathologists to provide parent training regarding developmental milestones, age-appropriate expectations, behavior management, crisis intervention, and stress management. Developmental screenings are offered in a variety of settings for toddlers to prekindergarten ages throughout the county to assess children in areas of cognitive, motor, social, self-help, and communication development. School psychologists work with the preschool population to help children who are at risk. They also help at risk children served through the Head Start/Early Intervention Programs and those who are eligible for services through Exceptional Student Education programs.

Elementary School Psychological Services

At the elementary school level, school psychologists provide a myriad of services. Working within an intervention team model, they help to identify specific concerns and develop appropriate intervention strategies. They also assist teachers in classroom implementation of behavior management and social skills training. School psychologists conduct evaluations that will aid in future educational program planning for children. During this process, they frequently consult with teachers and parents to plan and help implement interventions for children that will further their success at school and at home. They provide information about mental health concerns, ESE procedures and programs, and developmentally appropriate behaviors. They work with parents on issues such as effective discipline, academic strategies, interpersonal relationships, and social skills development.

Middle School Psychological Services

School psychologists who work with the middle school population provide evaluation, consultation, and intervention design services with students, parents, teachers, and administrators as outlined above. At this level they provide students with individual and group counseling services relative to anger management, problem-solving, goal setting, and other issues. Many school psychologists work with peer mediation programs, discipline committees, CORE teams (drug and other substance education and prevention), and intervention teams. School psychologists at this level often help parents, teachers, and students to understand and cope with the physiological and psychological changes that occur at this age.

High School Psychological Services

High School Psychological Services The high school level provides school psychologists with many challenges. Students are concerned with career goals, dating and relationship issues, parental rules, communication, separation issues, and conflict resolution between individuals and cross cultural groups. At this time of their lives, the students are dealing with life lessons to prepare them for adult living and advanced education. School psychologists are involved not only with evaluations and reevaluations for exceptional student education, but with helping basic education students attain their high school diplomas. Much of this is done through individual counseling with the student and consultation with the parents, guidance counselors, and teachers. School psychologists at this level facilitate group counseling regarding issues of substance abuse, sexual abuse, divorce, dating and relationship issues, and loss/grief issues. Many school psychologists offer their services to teachers as guest lecturers on a variety of topics such as stress management, creative problem solving, and developing healthy interpersonal relationships. Title I Psychological Services Title I school psychologists are employed full time at Title I elementary schools. They provide students, staff, and parents with the services previously outlined for elementary school psychologists on a daily expanded school wide basis. Title I school psychologists provide additional benefits assisting staff and parents to improve student achievement. Through a school based delivery model they are able to serve more students with opportunities for academic and behavioral interventions, social skills training, and individual and group counseling. The Title I school psychologists are highly visible and accessible to staff, students, and parents. Therefore, they are able to better monitor and evaluate both home and school intervention efforts. They provide teachers with a resource to improve student achievement, while decreasing referrals and placement in ESE (Exceptional Student Education) programs. Title I school psychologists work closely with staff to maximize the use of Computer Curriculum Coursework (CCC) to assist individual and groups of students in improving their reading and mathematics achievement. They assist teachers in monitoring the achievement and social emotional development of students who are in continuous progress classrooms to ensure they make appropriate gains. For those students that are referred for ESE evaluations, Title I school psychologists complete evaluations and provide services in a timely manner. They work collaboratively with staff to increase parental involvement through awareness and education activities which have been supported by current research to effectively improve student achievement. Title I school psychologists assist their administrative team with many resources to use during crisis situations, with conflict resolution problems, in understanding district ESE procedures, and in providing staff with training, developing, monitoring and evaluating building outcomes. Title I school psychologists play an integral role in the success of these types of services to children encountering risk factors.

ESOL Psychological Services

The need for ESOL training, consultation, strategies, and evaluation has grown dramatically with the changing demographics in the public school system. ESOL school psychologists in Pasco County work with Limited English Proficient (LEP) students from preschool through twelfth grade providing a wide variety of services. ESOL school psychologists work closely with ESOL resource teachers, parents, classroom teachers, school administrators, and student services personnel to help coordinate services to LEP students. Beyond the services outlined in the previous paragraphs, ESOL school psychologists work to increase cross-cultural awareness, knowledge of appropriate assessment methods and instruments, knowledge of bilingual education, knowledge of language development and cultural adjustment to help ensure that LEP students have access to equitable and comparable services. ESOL school psychologists participate in the LEP Committee to help develop appropriate interventions. These interventions are creating a better learning environment to maximize the student's opportunities to be successful, while respecting the student's ethnic background and cultural experience. Other services provided by ESOL school psychologists include: assessing language proficiency, updating legal requirements governing ESOL and ESE issues, and teaching tolerance/increasing sensitivity to help promote greater understanding of diversity.

Alternative Schools Psychological Services

School psychologists at the Alternative School level are school based and work with the school based social worker, nurse, and guidance counselor. They provide all the services discussed above, but on a much more intense and individual basis to their students. They facilitate academic achievement and social development by assessing each individual student's needs. They address these needs by encouraging a diversified curriculum that emphasizes tolerance, respect, empathy, structure, and academic and social-emotional growth. By working through a collaborative consultation model with staff members and by direct modeling of effective classroom management strategies, these school psychologists are able to help ensure that each student's individual needs and educational goals are being met. The ultimate goal is to have these students transition back into a more traditional educational setting. To reach this goal, the school psychologists at the Alternative Schools work directly with parents to teach effective parenting techniques with adolescents and to help provide in-home case management when necessary. These school psychologists also work with both students and parents to help reduce family stressors by teaching coping skills, anger management, conflict resolution, and family survival skills. Many times the school psychologists teach these skills directly in the setting where the problem is occurring. These school psychologists are actively engaged in increasing the awareness of this population's special needs to outside agencies and helping parents network with community resources. They are also directly involved in developing more effective transitional programs for those students which includes post alternative school settings and, in some cases, increased options for residential placement. The school psychologists at the Alternative Schools are providing intense services that involve the integration of home, school, and community efforts.

Summary of Psychological Services

All school psychologists in Pasco County are involved in enhancing the lives of children, families, and school communities in integral ways. It is the hope that the facilitation of academic and social potential in all students will occur through the active participation of the school psychologist's staff in the varied settings and the diverse activities described.