We asked school psychology professor Laurie Klose a few questions to get to know her better.
by Susie P. Gonzalez
Being able to combine her love of psychology and education was the perfect answer to professor Laurie Klose’s career goals. As director of Trinity University’s Master of Arts in School Psychology program, she prepares other professionals to help children thrive at home, school, and life. To learn more about her field and her support for safe schools, read on.
What do like best about teaching Trinity students?
Trinity students are highly qualified and highly motivated. It makes teaching complex content and skills more rewarding when students are able to grasp the content and apply the skills.
How do you motivate your students?
I try to motivate students by example. I love the field of school psychology, and I try to demonstrate this through all of my courses. I work to establish a trusting environment where students can feel confident in taking risks and examining internal beliefs. By doing this, students become actively engaged in the learning process as opposed to just getting through the requirements.
How did you get involved in your field of study?
As an undergraduate psychology major, I knew that I wanted to pursue graduate studies. I consulted with my adviser and she suggested that I consider school psychology. I had never heard of the discipline before that conversation. As I investigated the field and graduate programs, I was thrilled to learn that there was a job that combined my two favorite things: school and psychology. I was immediately drawn to the preventative orientation of the work of school psychologists and the individual work with children. The opportunity to work with school systems from the inside to create appropriate learning environments for all children is a responsibility that I take very seriously. As a practitioner and now a graduate educator, I have dedicated my adult life to helping children thrive at home, at school, and in life.
What is your favorite aspect of teaching?
My favorite aspect of teaching is watching the development of professional skills in my students. From the time they enter the program to the time they graduate, a true transformation takes place. The school psychology program is an intensive, demanding course of study that requires significant introspection and reflection, in addition to knowledge and skill acquisition. I have the honor of following the professional career of most of the graduates. These individuals represent the program honorably and frequently become leaders in the field. The graduate students of today become the mentors and supervisors of tomorrow. Together, we are all in the business of helping kids.
Least favorite? Why?
There is not really anything that I do not like about teaching. If I could change one thing, I would make all courses pass/not pass. In graduate level work, it seems inappropriate to assign grades. It makes more sense to me to take a more criterion referenced approach and evaluate whether the graduate student has demonstrated entry level professional competency/knowledge of the course material or not.
Please share your view of how school psychologists help at-risk students.
My view of the school psychologist’s role in helping at-risk students is consistent with the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Model for the Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of School Psychological Services. The standards and practices model, taken from the NASP website, states, “School psychologists apply their knowledge of both psychology and education during consultation and collaboration with others. They conduct effective decision making using a foundation of assessment and data collection. School psychologists engage in specific services for students, such as direct and indirect interventions that focus on academic skills, learning, socialization, and mental health. School psychologists provide services to schools and families that enhance the competence and well-being of children, including promotion of effective and safe learning environments, prevention of academic and behavior problems, response to crises, and improvement of family–school collaboration. The key foundations for all services by school psychologists are understanding of diversity in development and learning; research and program evaluation; and legal, ethical, and professional practice.” This expresses how the prevention of difficulties is a key component of school psychological services. I try to impress upon my graduate students that the most effective way to help children is to promote the creation of effective learning environments. That way, students who are at-risk for less than optimal outcomes are given a boost from the beginning.
With the debate about gun violence in schools, is there a role for school psychologists?
The tragedies of violent acts in school settings have opened an important dialogue about safe and supportive schools and what it takes to create them. I am proud to have been part of the NASP leadership that recently approved and released a resolution regarding gun violence prevention which includes the following provisions: “NASP supports approaches that protect children, as they are particularly vulnerable when it comes to gun violence both as direct victims and as being traumatized by the exposure to the deaths of family members, friends, neighbors, and community members.This includes: rigorous enforcement of existing gun laws; eliminating inappropriate youth access to guns; improving awareness of safe gun practices, including secure storage of firearms; restricting the presence of guns in schools to only commissioned and trained school resource officers; and ensuring greater protection to keep guns out of the hands of individuals deemed at risk of hurting themselves and others.”
School psychologists can support these components of school safety by supporting “legislation, regulation, and public policy intended to reduce gun violence including, but not limited to:
+ Comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases.
+ Extreme risk protection orders that allow family members or police officers (when notified by school/family or when responding to an incident) to petition the court to remove someone’s access to weapons when they are deemed a threat to self or others.
+ Bans on weapons that can do mass destruction in a short period of time (e.g., fully automatic assault weapons).
+ Evidence-based threat assessment policy and practice; mental health evaluations and re-entry plans, including ongoing mental and behavioral health support for students identified as being of imminent threat to themselves or others; and enhanced student access to mental health supports in schools and communities.
+ Elimination of the Dickey Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to conduct comprehensive scientific research about gun violence.
+ Increased investments for rigorous research on gun violence.”
Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by my students every day. They come from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. Each one of them has chosen to pursue a career where the demands are high and the recognition is low. To see them struggle and succeed in order to serve children is a true inspiration.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Why?
I tell everyone that once I entered the field of school psychology, I never looked back. I have never thought about a different profession. As I become a more and more seasoned professional, I think that I might eventually be drawn to advocacy work at the local, state, and national level as a full-time profession, rather than a part of my role as a volunteer leader in state and national organizations.
What is your favorite sound?
Laughter, no question. Humor helps everyone get through the tough times and reminds us all to take ourselves a little less seriously.
Your least favorite?
I do not like the sound of a leaf blower.
Where would you like to retire?
Santa Cruz, Calif. It is a little slice of paradise.