Derek Rodman, '18

University of Oregon College of Education SPSY Alumni

What is some hands-on experience you had as a school psychology student that was valuable for your career?

As a student in the UO School Psychology Masters Program, I was fortunate to receive several hands-on experiences that were valuable for my development as a school psychologist. One experience was delivering academic interventions to at-risk students at the Center on Teaching and Learning (CTL) Clinic at HEDCO. We were trained on providing academic instruction using evidence-based curricula and then delivered interventions to a small group of elementary-aged students. Another valuable experience was completing practicum at a nearby middle school. During this experience, I worked closely with a practicing school psychologist, received individual and group supervision from school psychology program faculty, and completed several assignments that directly applied to practice. These experiences provided me with valuable feedback and knowledge about delivering academic and behavior interventions to elementary- and middle school-age students.

Can you explain what your experience has been being a school psychologist in Southern Oregon?

I began working at Phoenix-Talent Schools (PTS) in 2017 as a school psychologist intern. I am now finishing my third year at PTS as a licensed school psychologist. Our district is comprised of approximately 2,700 students across six schools. PTS is located in Southern Oregon, a region with a significant shortage of school psychologists. I am the only school psychologist for PTS, so it can be difficult to balance the needs of students across a Title 1 district. However, I’m grateful to work with an excellent special education director and staff across our district’s buildings. My duties in this role include the following: conducting academic, behavior, and cognitive assessments; planning and developing behavior plans; providing crisis intervention services; delivering counseling services; participating on school and district-wide teams; and helping with individualized program planning for special education students.

We understand that you worked with some communities that dealt with loss due to wildfires in 2020. Can you explain what you did and how your work impacted those in the community?

The communities of Phoenix and Talent experienced a significant tragedy in September 2020 when the Almeda Fire tore through both towns, destroying 2,700 structures and displacing 40% of our district’s students and families. Following this tragedy, I was able to be part of a team of district staff and community members who responded quickly to help our families who were impacted by the fire. My role primarily focused on providing social and emotional support to our students who had lost their homes. Additionally, I provided support at our district’s fire relief resource fairs which connected families to local services, housing support, financial assistance, and basic necessities.

What are your future career plans, including becoming a field supervisor or a SPSY Intern next year?

My future career plans are to shift my focus to working with adolescent students at the middle and high schools in our district. Our district recognizes the importance for social-emotional learning and trauma-informed practices, so I plan to help support this work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Almeda Fire. I’m also excited to supervise a school psychologist intern from UO who will be joining our district for the 2021-22 school year. Moving forward, I hope to support the development of school psychologists in the Southern Oregon area to help address the shortage that we have.


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