The Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania is proud to announce this year's School Psychologist of the Year, Dr. Angela McMasters. Dr. McMasters is a school psychologist at the Indiana Area School District (IASD) Junior High School.
Dr. McMasters sets an outstanding example for practicing school psychologists to become better advocates for their students by knowing what works, applying systems-level practices, and collaborating with school and district leaders to facilitate change. ASPP is proud to celebrate Dr. McMasters as our School Psychologist of the Year!
Dr. McMasters wholly embraces the implementation of comprehensive school psychological services. Her goals for helping students are grounded in a systems-level approach that allows her to meet the needs of more students using indirect service delivery. As she stated in a speech to fellow school psychologists at the annual ASPP conference in October, a well-designed system is the best defense for our well-intended educators trying desperately to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students. School psychologists have the ideal training, skills, and fortitude to make it happen.
Dr. McMasters acknowledges, however, that school psychologists cannot be successful working alone - in multiple definitions of the word. Districts need more school psychologists to allow school psychologists to be able to implement preventative, systems-level practices. She approached her superintendent to successfully advocate for more school psychologists in IASD to reduce the school psychologist-to-student ratio across the district. Moreover, school psychologists need the partnership of administrators and school leaders who support such systems-level initiatives to promote equitable practices that address all students’ academic, behavioral, and emotional needs.
Dr. McMasters shines in her ability to apply her skills in advocacy, consultation, and collaboration to make meaningful change across the school system. Dr. McMasters has worked with her school team to establish and scale-up multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for academics and behavior. As MTSS Coordinator, Dr. McMasters develops school-wide processes to address students' needs, working to prevent concerns before they even become problems. The goal is to address the needs of the greatest number of students by providing all students with strong evidence-based practices, and providing additional services to students when they first begin to show signs of needing more help. Applying this approch to address students' reading achievement, Dr. McMasters provided guidance to her district to help them critically examine theresearch for universal reading instruction, which resulted in the district's adoption of a more evidence-based Tier 1 reading curriculum for students. Further, Dr. McMasters facilitates the implementation of screening tools for all students in the building to assess students' needs academically, behaviorally, and emotionally. Results of the screenings inform the MTSS teams’ decisions in order to provide students with the practices that most appropriately meet their needs. Not only does Dr. McMasters implement this systems-level approach toward effective instruction within the junior high school, but she also partners with the other IASD schools to support consistent implementation of practices across the district.