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Celebrate National School Psychology Awareness Week through Nov. 16

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has designated Nov. 12 through 16 as National School Psychology Awareness Week. This year's theme - "Know Your Own Strengths. Discover Them. Share Them. Celebrate Them." - helps students to discover and celebrate their individual strengths. Whether strengths are academic, athletic or social-emotional, they serve to bolster an individual's resilience in the face of challenges. NASP offers a series of resources and activities for school psychologists to use with school staff, students and parents to help students boost stress tolerance, improve academic performance, increase life satisfaction and even improve self-confidence.

NASP represents more than 24,000 school psychologists who work in schools and other education and health settings. School psychologists work with parents and educators to ensure that every child has the mental health and learning support they need to succeed in school and life.

"This year's theme expresses the importance of students and school staff being aware of their strengths, both as individuals and as members of their school community," says NASP President Amy Smith. "We know from the positive psychology research that students do better in school when they see themselves through the lens of their abilities rather than their inabilities. Our job as educators is to reinforce students' positive attitudes and feelings of competence by emphasizing and building on their strengths."

The learning environment is the ideal setting to help students discover, share and celebrate their strengths. "When students are engaged in learning, they are not just building skills, they are shaping their understanding of the world and their place in it," explains Smith. "We have the opportunity to help students see a particular characteristic, such as kindness or curiosity, as a strength and then help them to apply that strength to a positive action, such as solving a problem or helping a classmate." The more students practice this strengths-based thinking and acting, the more natural it becomes and the greater affect it has on students' learning and resilience.

When a school imbeds a strengths-based approach in all aspects of learning, the whole school community benefits as well.

"Positive approaches to teaching and learning can improve school climate and connectedness," says Smith. "When students feel connected at school and see themselves as contributors to their school community, they start to take responsibility for its well-being."

A number of activities include NASP's "Know Your Own Strengths" program to reinforce how individual strengths contribute to community strengths, as well as the connections among students, between students and staff and between home and school.

Smith points to the importance of school psychologists in fostering strengths in students.

"School psychologists promote wellness and resilience in students by reinforcing problem solving, anger management, positive communication and social skills and optimism," she emphasizes. "The training and expertise a school psychologist holds prove important in improving resilience, goal setting, empowerment and emotional awareness, leading students to be more engaged, academically successful and self-confident. These are skills that will serve students well through their academic careers and when they transition to adult life."

For further information on ACPS School Psychologists, please visit the ACPS Office of Psychological Services or contact Lead Psychologist John Baker at 703-820-5360.