One School Nurse + One Behavior Specialist + One School Psychologist = The Untested ESSENTIALS of Learning
A square peg in a round hole is an idiomatic expression which describes the unusual individualist who could not fit into a niche of his or her society. ^ Wallace, Irving. (1957) The Square Pegs: Some Americans Who Dared to be Different, p. 10.
Above found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_peg_in_a_round_hole
Most employees of school districts are… [insert a drum roll here]…teachers. And the customers of their expertise are the wonderful students who walk through the doors of their respective schools each day, ready to learn all the fascinating things teachers have prepared to teach.
[Insert the sound of screeching brakes] Hold on a minute!
What happens if a student walks through the doors of the school and is not 100% ready to learn? What if the student is not even 50% ready to learn? What if the student is hungry? Sleep deprived? Scared because yesterday another student threatened to beat him up? Worried because her mother’s boyfriend threw her mother around the kitchen last night? Angry because her family’s electricity was turned off the night before? Sad because his grandfather is dying? What if the student, himself, is sick? Or has a learning disability? Or has attention span issues? Or…well, you get the point. The list of hypotheticals is endless.
In an average day in a classroom of 25 students, there are probably at least 5-6 students who have some sort of barrier that interferes with his or her ability to learn academics optimally. That’s where we come in…The 3 Square Pegs. Our jobs are to provide support services to students, their families, and the teaching staff so that teachers are able to teach, and more importantly, students are able to maximize learning.
What can you expect from our blog? Our focus will be on the multitude of untested essentials that are required for learning to occur. Head lice? Check. Classroom design? Check. Bully Prevention? Check. De-escalation strategies? Check. And on and on the list goes. These essentials will be in the form of a host of practices at the district, school, classroom, and individual student levels. With our 60+ years of collective experience in helping teachers teach and students learn, we think we have something to offer.
We are blessed to work in a school district that has vision. To be a small, rural school district with approximately 2,600 students, having a Nurse Practitioner designated as the district’s Director of the Coordinated School Health Program, a School Psychologist functioning as a district-wide counselor to support our excellent guidance counselors, and a Behavior Consultant who is currently the Director of our Alternative Education Program, we consider ourselves rather unique.
Per the meaning of “A square peg in a round hole”, we are unusual individualists who do not fit into a niche of our society (aka, schools). Don’t confuse our “not fitting neatly into our educational society” as meaning that we are not wanted there or that we don’t want to be there! We are welcomed and appreciated by the educators with whom we have the privilege of working. We just happen to think differently in some respects. While we all want the best for our students, our focus is on the many foundational essentials required for learning to even be an option. Teachers teach. They are under tremendous pressure to improve achievement and adhere to new national standards. The three of us provide support services, direct and indirect, to our district’s excellent teachers and awesome students. The result? Students who, for the most part, come to school happy, healthy, and ready to learn. Not BECAUSE of us, but with our help, these students achieve more academic, behavioral, and social/emotional success.
What can you expect in the days and weeks to come? The format of our blog, while it has the common thread of addressing barriers to learning, will shift as each of us take on the responsibility of writing one or two blog entries per week.
SQUARE PEG ONE – EVA
I am a nurse. A nurse practitioner to be exact. And I work in education. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water since educators and nurses don’t always speak the same language. I’ve worked in school health for the last 13 years and truly love it. I am fortunate to love most things I’ve ever done (with the exception of a brief three-month emergency room stint- that was a lesson in where NOT to work for me). I suppose I ended here naturally, my father is a retired principal and my mom a retired nurse. It’s a little piece of both of their worlds. I look at health from the perspective of physical, behavioral, and social and can see clearly how overlooking issues in any area can negatively impact the ability to teach and learn. This may explain a bit how I have ended up with the other two pegs.
I’m new to blogging (which will be no shock when you read my posts) but will learn and improve as I go. I have an amazing husband (that is true, not exaggerated in the least for dramatic effect), two biological daughters, and two others I will gladly claim as my own. My kids are pretty outstanding as well- even as teenagers. I work for two school districts, teach Bible school, and fill in places as a family nurse practitioner. I’ve been a Registered Nurse for 20 years and a nurse practitioner for eight. I chose nursing because a lady found me wandering around the advising center my third year of college at West Virginia University (Go EERS)! as the classes I had chosen were full. My declared major was “general studies”. She was a sweet white-haired lady who looked at me like I was crazy and said “what do you THINK you want to do” (along with a few choice other things). I told her I was considering nursing and she changed my major on the spot. I noticed her name tag later said “School of Nursing”. I am thankful that the Lord put Dora Hennen in my path.
I do have a passion for school health. A big passion. I see children with needs and a society that doesn’t pay very much attention. That tends to get me a bit riled up and what I hope is that we can all educate each other, share what we know, learn to do things better and then all get riled up enough to make it happen.
So welcome to our blog. I hope you enjoy it and will help us grow in the process.
SQUARE PEG TWO – PAM
I suppose I have always been a square peg to some extent. Becoming a Psychologist was a logical choice given my life journey. With parents in their 40s when I was born and three older siblings, one by twenty years, I had a different home life than most of my peers, but the death of my father when I was 8 and the death of my mother five years later certainly put me on a unique path. I learned quickly, and mostly without knowing it, that life is not always “fair”, resilience is a beautiful process, and good can come from very difficult circumstances and events.
I have a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Western Kentucky University and am a Certified Psychologist with Autonomous Functioning through the Kentucky State Board of Psychology. I also have certification by the Kentucky Department of Education in School Psychology. After doing psycho-educational evaluations to help determine special education eligibility for 10+ years, I was hired by my current district to be a counselor in our middle school. For the past nine years, however, I have been the District Counselor, which allows me to provide more ongoing counseling to specific students across all our schools. I supplement, not replace, our excellent guidance counselors and school psychologists. When counseling students, I have a strong lean towards Glasser’s Choice Theory, Covey’s Seven Habits, and Linehan’s DBT. I am also very interested in Seligman’s Positive Psychology in education.
Family is my therapy. I am privileged to be a wife, mom, mother-in-law, MoMo, sister, aunt, and friend. I consider myself to be the “Queen of Spectators”, particularly of football. Following is my favorite verse from the Bible. This verse has been my Northern Star:
In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.—1 Thessalonians 5:18
SQUARE PEG THREE – LUANNE
Bits about LuAnne…
- I LOVE teaching! I especially love working with the struggling student (that square peg).
- I taught special education for 13 years.
- I was the district behavior consultant for 9 years.
- I am currently the principal of an alternative school for middle and high school students.
- I love to read…especially murder mysteries.
- I enjoy the arts…community theatre, art, music. I’m even learning to paint.
- I firmly believe in PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and supports).
- I believe most misbehavior is due to lack of knowledge instead of deviousness.
- I think Thomas Phelan’s 1,2,3 Magic (a discipline method for school and home) is the best thing since sliced bread!
- I think Camp Winona for Boys in Bridgton Maine is the way life should be.
- I’m a pearl girl. Every classic southern girl has pearls!
- I believe the basis for changing behavior is figuring out why a child is acting out. What is the function of the behavior? You will read about this in my post.
- I love technology! This doesn’t mean I’m good at it…just that I love to figure out new gadgets.
- I love my iPad! It goes to bed with me every night.
- I am celebrating 30 years with my husband who always makes me laugh!
- I have three children. One is in graduate school at University of Tennessee Chattanooga, one graduated from Xavier, and one is a freshman at Belmont. They are smart, well-mannered, and just fun to be around. We enjoy being together!
- All my babies were born in Kodiak, Alaska. One was born during a blizzard. That trip to the hospital was interesting.