WAPS school psychologists help students grow, thrive

WAPS School Psychologists are pictured

Clockwise, from upper left, Kate Konop-Wolf, Denise Van Etten, Josh Binder, Amy Halverson and Lisa Skifton support WAPS students, teachers and families as school psychologists. 

This week, Nov. 8-12, is National School Psychology Week. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, school psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students' ability to learn and teachers' ability to teach. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. School psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community.

National School Psychology Week (NSPW) to highlight the important work school psychologists and other educators do to help all students thrive. This year's theme is "Let's Get in GEAR." GEAR stands for Grow, Engage, Advocate and Rise. The theme's acronym provides a challenge to grow both personally and professionally. It encourages us to engage in best practices and advocate for children's access to mental health and learning supports. To rise implies resilience and renewal despite the challenges of the past.

Winona Area Public Schools is fortunate to have the experience, dedication and creativity of five school psychologists who have served the district for a cumulative total of 76 years — and that’s not counting years they were a school psychologist for other districts. 

They were each asked why they like being a school psychologist, and this is what they said:

Josh Binder
Assignment: Jefferson Elementary
Years in the district: 11

“Being a nationally certified school psychologist puts me in a position to have a positive impact on all levels of our school community. Whether it is supporting and advocating for the needs of individual students, assisting teachers, collaborating with families or promoting best practices for all students.”

Amy Halverson
Assignment: Goodview and W-K
Years in the district: 9 (28 years as a school psychologist)

“I like being a School Psychologist because I get to be a member of a team of people whose goal is to help students succeed academically, emotionally, and behaviorally.”

Kate Konop-Wolf
Assignment: Winona Senior High School, Winona Area Learning Center
Years in the district: 18

“I love Winona Area Public Schools students. They are bright, brave, fun and I so appreciate that I get to see them grow.”

Lisa Skifton
Assignment: Winona Middle School
Years in the district: 20

“I like being a school psychologist because of how diverse the role is. I enjoy sharing quality assessment data with parents, teachers and students that clearly identifies specific interventions that match the students' needs. I enjoy training teachers on scientifically research-based interventions and seeing the positive results of those interventions used. It is very rewarding to do 1:1 and group counseling. I also enjoy helping with Ashley's Angels, which provides Christmas gifts and a Christmas meal to families in the Winona area each year. This year, my highlight is facilitating a weekly book study, infused with reading strategies, with students in the DEEDS program. These students are such a joy and they are teaching me so much!”

Denise Van Etten
Assignment: Early Childhood, District-Wide
Years in the district: 18

“My favorite part of being a school psych is the variety of work. No two children are alike and therefore each student I meet has unique strengths and needs. It is my pleasure to partner with our talented staff to support them.”