Northeastern University SASP chapter spotlight

This spotlight showcases the SASP chapter at Northeastern University in Massachusetts for their efforts promoting advocacy events on campus and in the greater Boston community

By Elizabeth M. Hemphill, MS, and Alice Gomez, MS

The Northeastern University Student Affiliates of School Psychology (SASP) chapter has been involved with a variety of advocacy and social activities throughout the year. In the fall, SASP supported many activities, especially during School Psychology Awareness Week. This year for School Psychology Awareness Week, the Northeastern University SASP chapter worked to recognize the Northeastern University faculty as well as help the greater Boston community. SASP planned a faculty luncheon during the week to recognize and thank the faculty for all of the support they provide for the Northeastern University program. Representatives from the Northeastern school psychology program also attended the undergraduate Northeastern University Psychology Club meeting to talk to undergraduates in psychology about school psychology. The undergraduate Psychology Club at Northeastern University agreed to collaborate with Northeastern University school psychology students to host a school supplies/toy drive during School Psychology Awareness Week. All of the toys and supplies collected were donated to Cradles to Crayons, a local Boston nonprofit agency that provides essential items (i.e., clothes, school supplies) to homeless and low-income children. Because of these advocacy activities, the Northeastern University School Psychology program was awarded the School Psychology Advocacy Award at the Convention for the National Association of School Psychologists Convention in February 2012.

This spring, the Northeastern University SASP program has been planning several advocacy activities as well as the annual Northeastern University SASP Spring Conference. In February, representatives from SASP visited an undergraduate psychology class to speak with undergraduates about school psychology and raise awareness about attending graduate school in school psychology. At the first SASP meeting, advanced students in the program presented information on how to make a research poster to other graduate students in the program. Over 40 current students and faculty attended the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Convention in February and the SASP chapter organized a dinner for all current students, faculty and alums of the program. This May the SASP chapter is planning to help the Boston Public Schools with a program they host to empower and educate parents in the Boston area. The SASP chapter is also working with the Massachusetts NASP representative to help with increasing NASP membership in the Massachusetts area.

The Northeastern University Annual SASP Spring Conference is hosted by the SASP chapter at Northeastern University as a way to promote both professional development and networking opportunities. The SASP Spring Conference is open to graduate students at Northeastern and surrounding universities, their faculty, and school psychology professionals in the local area. In previous years, students and faculty from several universities in the Northeast region have been invited to the Northeastern University SASP Spring Conference including: University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, Tufts University, Rhode Island College, University of Rhode Island, University of Southern Maine, and Fairfield University. The SASP Spring Conference consists of formal training in an area of professional development and also includes a student poster session to allow students to gain professional experience presenting their work and research in areas related to school psychology. In past years, the SASP conference has provided training on Direct Behavior Ratings (DBRs) to monitor student behavior in schools, the applications of Positive Psychology to prevent burnout and promote wellness, and the PREPaRE curriculum to develop crisis management and emergency response systems in schools. This year, the SASP conference will provide training through Signs of Suicide (SOS), the only evidence-based suicide prevention program for use in schools. SASP is also planning a student social after the student poster session this year to encourage networking opportunities between students in school psychology.

In addition to promoting advocacy events on campus and in the greater Boston community, the Northeastern University SASP chapter also promotes social activities to foster relationships between faculty and students. In the fall, SASP organized a social to welcome new students to the program. Members within SASP facilitated a campus tour on Orientation Day before joining faculty and current students at a local restaurant. During finals week, SASP hosted a faculty and student school psychology social. SASP also sponsored a Trolley Tour of Boston, which was the fall fundraiser. In May, the SASP chapter will host a trivia night fundraiser. All proceeds will be donated to Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization that creates friendship and leadership development for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

About the authors

Elizabeth M. Hemphill, co-president of Northeastern University's SASP chapter, is a second year doctoral candidate in school psychology at Northeastern University in Boston. She is fulfilling the coursework for the early intervention certificate. Elizabeth is interested in early childhood development, especially the social and cognitive development of children with and without disabilities. She is also interested in the social/emotional development of at-risk children and children from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.

Alice Gomez, co-president of Northeastern University's SASP chapter, is a second year masters, CAGS candidate in school psychology at Northeastern University. Alice is interested in urban education. She is also interested in preventative programs for at-risk students and children from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.