Wayne State program provides local training for school psychologist students.

January 31, 2020

Gretchen Spoor works with a student.

Wayne State program provides local training for school psychologist students.

West Shore School News is a presentation of the West Shore Educational Service District.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, MCP Staff Writer.

AMBER TOWNSHIP — With the shortage of school psychologists in the State of Michigan making it harder to meet the educational and emotional needs of students, the West Shore Educational Service District (ESD) has teamed up with Wayne State University to offer a three-year, hands on apprenticeship/internship for local students enrolled in the university’s online cohort program for school psychology. Students enrolled in the graduated program  work entirely online to complete the three-year program to receive credit hours. At West Shore ESD, they also engage in a paid apprenticeship, getting hands on experiences, working with special education staff to diversify their opportunities.

Manistee resident, Gretchen Spoor is enrolled in her first year of the program and is actively working 28 hours a week as an apprentice with the ESD. After spending many years working outside of Michigan, she decided to move back home and investigate her options as a school psychologist. After researching different schools, she came across WSU’s online cohort. With the help of a current ESD school psychologist, she approached Amanda Unger, WSESD special education supervisor about the program. Unger was able to create this three-year apprenticeship/internship for Spoor through the ESD.

Along with the college coursework and apprenticeship, Spoor also must spend additional time in a classroom (pre-practicum) each semester, which every student must complete who is enrolled in Wayne State’s program. The difference between Spoor and other students living outside of the ESD’s coverage area is those students do not participate in the three-year long apprenticeship/internship, they only complete school shadowing and a third-year internship. This three-year long, paid program, in addition to the coursework and school shadowing is unique only to the West Shore ESD.

“This program is a great opportunity for people in our area to participate in the program while learning our systems and building relationships so they can grow into a career as a school psychologist at West Shore ESD,” Unger said.

Spoor said she really enjoys her time with the ESD so far and said she is receiving hands on experiences with students and staff that otherwise she wouldn’t be getting until her third year. After graduation from Wayne State, Spoor said she hopes to be able to return to the WSESD as a school psychologist, but also as a master’s degree level clinical therapist, because Wayne’s program not only certifies the student as a school psychologist, but it also gives them the training and education to obtain clinical certification as well.

“The School Psychologist Apprentice role allows me to see the varied sides of education – through the lens of teachers and paraprofessionals in the classroom, through ancillary staff and administration and finally, as a student myself,” Spoor said. “I hope to assist both Wayne State and WSESD in growing this new position and attracting future cohorts of school psychologists to northern Michigan. Success for all students begins with motivating and training educators.”

For more information about Wayne State University’s school psychology cohort or to learn more about the WSESD Apprenticeship, either contact Amanda Unger at 231.757.3716 or Dr. Lauren Mangus of Wayne State University at lauren.mangus@wayne.edu.

The West Shore Educational Service District is funded through the support of taxpayers in Mason, Lake, and Oceana counties.

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