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2016 F. Peter Gross Best Practices Award Winners - Kate Lavik & Paul Mooradian

Remarks from OSPA Awards Committee Co-Chair Melissa Bestgen

Welcome to the Spring 2016 Awards Banquet. I am Melissa Bestgen, and this is Cindy Thompson, and we are Awards Committee Co-Chairs. Today we have the honor of presenting two awards to our colleagues. The purpose of the Pete Gross Best Practice Award is to recognize school psychology programs that demonstrate exemplary professional practices and to provide specific information to other
school psychologists. Practices in areas such as technical skills, direct service to students, indirect services to students, and personal effort are considered. Nominees must be OSPA members and can be nominated by anyone.

Dr. Kate Lavik and Dr. Paul Mooradian have been integral in continuing the success of the Akron Public School IAT program for the 2015-2016 school year. Since the Fall, they have functioned as the IAT Leads, acting as liaisons between the Akron Public Schools Office of Special Education and schools throughout the district. They have provided training and technical assistance to the 54 teams across the city and worked with the staff to build a systemic and sustainable program. They spend time observing and providing feedback to each team, researching and providing resources on progress monitoring
tools and research-based interventions, and adjusting the district’s policies and procedures based on the needs of a large, diverse district. Through their trainings and collaborations, they have served
thousands of students throughout APS, providing at-risk students with research-based supports to improve academic and behavioral performance across all grade levels. The Ohio School Psychologist Association Executive Board is honored to present Dr. Kate Lavik and Dr. Paul Mooradian with the 2016 Pete Gross Best Practices Award.

Remarks from Kate Lavik and Paul Mooradian

Kate: Paul and I would like to thank the Awards Committee and those who nominated us for this award. We would like to say that we are not in this IAT Lead position alone. Thanks to the tremendous foundational work done by Mandy Tandy in our district last year, we have been able to split the district IAT role into three psychologists and two administrators for this current school year. “Divide and conquer,”
as one might say. Paul acts as the elementary liaison, Dr. Rob Kubick acts as the middle school liaison, and I act as the high school liaison. Mrs. Andrea Severyn and Mr. John Biltz are the administrative side
of our team and help to foster our connections with other departments in the district, such as Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education. So, Paul and I would like to thank Mandy for her amazing and
dedicated work in reviving the IAT system in the Akron Public Schools last year; Rob, Andrea, and John for being our partners in crime this year as we work to expand the capacity of our building-level IATs and improve communication and partnerships with other departments in the district; and upper-level administrators, like Mrs. Aimee Kirsch, former school psychologist in Akron now District Assessment Specialist, and Mrs. Karen Liddell-Anderson, Director of Special Education, who are supportive of the integral role that IAT and Response to Intervention play in the district’s overall goal of closing the achievement gap.

Paul: Thank you, Kate. This year, with the support of our lead team, we have made the first small steps in refocusing our building IAT teams. Of course, some buildings are further along than others. Our goal for year 2 is to roll-out a district-level procedure for the IAT/ RTI process that will finally bring the building teams under a common protocol. This will be a big challenge for a large urban school district with approximately 40 elementary buildings used to doing their own thing and with different ideas about the purpose of the IAT. We hope to more clearly define the role of our IAT’s and align them more strategically
with our other district initiatives including building level PLC’s. We hope to clarify roles, adopt a common language, and eliminate the duplication of effort. Further we are working to align our RTI within our existing E/LA and Math curricula and more effectively and efficiently utilize existing intervention strategies embedded within these curricula. We hope to begin our first staff training with our school  psychologists at the beginning of this year and continue our staff and building level trainings as the year progresses. 

Kate: Additionally, I’d like to thank my husband for his unending support of my professional endeavors and for sharing the workload at home so I can take on exciting new roles at work. I’d like to thank my parents for imparting on me a need to achieve and do the best that I can. My brothers and sister have been lifelong cheerleaders for me, even though they may not have had much of a choice as the younger siblings. My in-laws have been great supporters, as well, and I would like to thank all of my family and friends for their continued love and encouragement.

Paul: Again, we would like to thank you all for this award. There are so many great school psychologists in this room doing interesting and innovative things. We would like to encourage all of you to consider
nominating a colleague for this fine award.