School psychologist embraces taking small steps for change

After the passing of school psychology awareness week before Thanksgiving break with a theme of “Small Steps Change Lives,” school psychologist Mark Groen endoresed the goal to inform how taking small steps can lead to greater success and build on the academic and social skills students need for personal achievement and a sense of wellbeing.

Unlike a school counselor who would work with all students, Groen assists students with disabilities and helps families going through tough times.

He wants students to realize that all the small steps forward they take make a difference for their success. Practicing, studying or exploring — small individual steps help build a path to a positive school community.

School psychologists are a unique addition to the school staff. They have a background in educational psychology, assessment and child development. They provide support to both students and teachers. They come together with families, school administrators and students to help achieve supportive learning communities.

“I’ve always had a love for learning, psychology and working with young adults,” Groen said. “Perhaps the most interesting aspect of being a school psychologist is that there are always new challenges. While I have a typical routine, I never know what situations or problems may need to be addressed from day to day. One day I may be testing a student’s reading skills and the next I may be helping a family in crisis. This variability makes each day unique and interesting.”

Groen said for those interested in education and supporting kids, school psychology would be a good career to explore, and there’s a school psychology training program right here at UNI. Groen, a graduate of UNI’s program, said that his favorite thing about the work is, “Working with children and families. It’s very rewarding to see students successfully transition into adulthood.”

And many times those changes come slowly, one step at a time.

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