By LEE MURRAY
School psychologists, counselors, educators, and students from across the state came together for Youngstown State University’s School Psychology Summer Institute.
Friday’s event offered lectures and professional development opportunities to 130 attendees.
“We do this every year at a very low cost to students, and trainers, and other school psychologists,” said YSU’s Dr. Richard VanVoorhis, who coordinated the event. “Every summer we’re trying to give back to the community and the state.”
Among the gathering were 10 YSU students who will begin a new educational-specialist degree program this summer. Classes start July 2.
“Our program emphasizes low-incidence disabilities such as autism, severe cognitive disability, deaf/blindness, those types of disabilities,” VanVoorhis said.
The program will use faculty from both the College of Education and the psychology department. It consists of a year of class work, a year of additional training, and an additional year of internship work within a public school.
Job prospects upon graduation look promising. Dr. Audrey Ellenwood, a YSU psychology faculty member who co-designed the program with VanVoorhis.Dr. Melinda Wolford told The Vindicator last year that graduates would serve a need in the Mahoning Valley.
“By law, there must be one school psychologist for every 2,500 students,” Ellenwood said. The number of children in the area determined to be disabled has risen sharply over the last decade. The diagnosis of autism had increased by 900 percent, she said in last year’s interview.
Students Sarah Brocker and Carl Keller both said they were excited to start the new program. Brocker was considering neuroscience programs when she read about the program last year.
“I’ve always been interested in advocating for underrepresented groups, so, I figured this was the perfect thing,” said Brocker.
Keller said it was the best fit for his interests.
“They emphasize low-incidence disabilities,” he said. “The program seemed to fit with what I was looking to get out of education.” Brocker and Keller start classes in two weeks.
Michael McSheehan of the University of New Hampshire was the keynote speaker. He focused his discussion on helping educators to “design educational programs in neighborhood schools and general education classrooms in order for [students with disabilities] to read and write and communicate.”
The NewsOutlet is a joint media venture by student and professional journalists and is a collaboration of Youngstown State University, WYSU Radio and The Vindicator.