The NASP 2003 Annual Convention
"Putting the Pieces Together: Enhancing Outcomes for all Children"
Although travel to Toronto was overshadowed by the recent alarm caused by SARS, many RIT school psychology students attended the NASP conference, held at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto April 8th-12th. Those of us who were at the conference got to hear many nationally acclaimed leaders in the field of school psychology , talk to current school psychologists from all over the country, and see the beautiful city of Toronto. We also were invited to a graduate student reception where we met fellow students from school psychology programs around the country. NASP leaders attended this reception as well and introduced themselves to us.
At the opening general session, the president of NASP, Diane Smallwood, formally welcomed the members to the convention. Smallwood presented the school psychologist of the year award to John Kelly, school psychologist from the Commack Union Free School District of New York State. The lifetime achievement in school psychology award was presented to Thomas J. Kampwirth of California.
Paper presentations covered a variety of topics-such as, the newest information in assessment practices, implementations of technology into the school psychologist's job, and the use of creative therapy techniques. There were also presentations geared toward graduate students that aimed at giving helpful suggestions on how to obtain a first-time school psychologist position.
Some of the more noteworthy presentations focused on the use of technology to improve data collection and efficiency. One presentation described the use of Personal Desktop Assistants, or PDA's, to collect data for classroom observations. Various software programs are being developed for PDA's in order to help school psychologists become more efficient and organized-it also can remind one of upcoming appointments and store crucial student information.
The exhibit hall at the conference was a place to learn about the newest products available for school psychologists use. Products included such items as the latest publications by NASP and the newest edition of the Stanford Binet and WISC intelligence tests. The exhibit hall was also a great place to collect information and test publisher catalogs...as well as to try and win a free test kit. There was even a booth with internet access where attendees were encouraged to email their congress members about what they thought about the improvement of IDEA.
The children's fund auction, also at the Sheraton Centre, was held during the conference, and consisted of both silent and live auctions. The items auctioned ranged from new test kits, to homemade afghans, all donated by members of NASP, or various state associations of school psychologists. All proceeds went to furthering children's development through education and enhancing mental health. In the past, the children's fund has responded to many national and international emergencies with needed items and funding for crisis training and interventions. This is usually a fun event to attend where you can mingle with fellow school psychologists while enjoying refreshments.
Overall, a great time was had by those who attended this year's conference. It was a great place to meet people currently within the field, make contacts for jobs and internships, and get a head start on planning for research projects and theses. Those of us who attended this year's conference felt empowered with the knowledge we acquired and contacts that we made, and are now hoping to also attend the 2004 convention in Dallas, Texas! Yee haw!