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2016 Clyde V. Bartlett Distinguished Service Award - Elaine Semper

Remarks from OSPA Awards Committee Co-Chair Cindy Thompson

The purpose of the Clyde V. Bartlett Distinguished Service Award is to recognize an Ohio school psychologist for outstanding service or achievement in the profession. Nominees should possess personal qualities thought to be desirable in the profession, have made outstanding contributions to the profession beyond duty, contributed significantly to the growth and development of the profession, and demonstrated outstanding service in the area of mental health. This year’s recipient is Mrs. Elaine Semper.

Elaine Semper began her educational career in 1969, after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Mount Union. Since then, Elaine has worked as a general education teacher, an intervention specialist, and administrator, and a school psychologist for students from all over northern Ohio –from Buckeye Local to Medina County to Midview and Columbia Local. In addition to the responsibilities of typically associated with these roles, she has also served as a 504 coordinator, Title IX director, testing coordinator, crisis response team member, and has provided trainings to staff and parents across several counties.

Elaine has also been very active in her professional associations. She is an active member of NASP, has served as Secretary and President of ELASPA and the President of OSPA, and served on the Executive Boards of both ELASPA and OSPA as Co-Chair of the Spring and Fall Conference Committees and ELASPA’s regional representative. She has also been awarded ELASPA’s School Psychologist of the Year.

The Ohio School Psychologist Association Executive Board is honored to present Elaine Semper with the 2016 Clyde V. Bartlett Distinguished Service Award.

Remarks from Elaine Semper

First, I would like to thank ELAPSA for nominating me for this wonderful recognition and the committee and Executive Board for this honor. This is my 46th year in the Education field and my 34th year as a school psychologist. Did you choose me for being the oldest or longest lasting?!?

I would like to say a few words about how to survive this long and still enjoy it! My recommendation for not just surviving but thriving is mentorship and support. I put these two together as a good mentor is a good support. I will briefly discuss ways that mentors contributed to my professional development.

Many people can trace their vocation to something early in life. Can you? My interest in education came early. I grew up never considering anything other than teaching as my mother and both of my grandmothers were teachers. One of my grandmothers was a graduate of Slippery Rock State University (Class of 1908!) and taught in a two room school. My other grandmother taught school over 40 years. I am so old I started teaching general education prior to 94-142. After teaching regular education for a few years, and having a desire to be able to help children more individually, I became a special education teacher – the old LD/BD label. Wanting to learn more about helping the range of students I had, I then took a course in working with the lower functioning students (the old EMR/TRM). Remember those wonderful labels?

Think of a professor who enlightened your interest in some area of school psychology. That first course was taught by Dr. Yanko Kovacovich, and I was fascinated! He made the understanding of intelligence so interesting. From then, I was hooked on school psychology. Think of your student and intern group and how you learned and grew together. To The University of Akron School Psych intern class of 1982… Thank you! Hopefully you had an internship supervisor who was a great mentor. Mine was Sandy Gossett at the Summit County BOE.

Things I am glad I learned during my internship:

  1. No matter how important the job, do not ignore and continue to be there for family. Sandy went home every day with time and energy for her family. You do many things important for students and families in the schools, but taking time for YOUR family and for reflection and relaxation is important for balance and sanity.
  2. Schedule time for writing and for collaboration. At the Summit Co. ESC we were scheduled ½ day a week for all the school psychs and interns to be at the office at the same time for training and help; and ½ day a week at the ESC office just for paperwork without interruption. Once in the field I found that wasn’t normal!
  3. Find mentors where you can. Many of us started out and some of you still are “lone wolves,” being the only school psych in a district, or in a place where we seldom see other school psychs. At Columbia Local we discovered early, before “teaming” became as important as it is today, that our district special education staff was a team that mentored each other in our small district. In Lorain County, the Northern Ohio SERRC was our salvation, with inservices and regularly scheduled meetings. For years, the SERRC had regular forums for supervisors and school psychs to work together to share information

.Your district support can often be nonschool-psychs. Find teachers who value good data. They can and be models for and help convince those who resist. And some of my best supports have been school secretaries. When I was at St. Augustine Academy in the 1980’s (in those vans we had to drive off school property every day—who remembers those??), each van had a clerk. Those ladies were much more than the “clerks.” They were called and were often our liaisons to the school staff.

Continuing education is essential. We no longer have the SERRCs, but most ESCs provide regular training. I encourage each of you to join, support, and become active in your OSPA regional. If you become active in your regional leadership, you can design the inservices you need. 

Through many years, former OSPA member Cathy Telzrow not only taught promoted best practices throughout her career in Ohio, she may it all sound so practical! Thank you, Cathy.

As you are here, you know that collaboration we get through OSPA and your regional exposes us ideas we may not have thought of. One I picked up was a way to encourage teachers to do paperwork you ask them to complete. Having had difficulty getting information on students from Junior High teachers, someone suggested chocolate. Yes, chocolate. You hand a teacher a BASC wth a chocolate bar stapled to it. They may feel guilty for eating the bar and not returning to forms to you! I feel fortunate for having had excellent special education supervisors to work with doing my school psych career. Thank you to my current special education supervisors, Nancy Nimmo at Buckeye and Rachel Krauss at the Medina County ESC. Thanks also to OSPA member, Barb Gargiulo, who was my first supervisor at Buckeye and set up the structure that I could work a flexible part time schedule at the needs of the district (and mine). The flexible schedule allows me to attend OSPA and other inservices—and to travel during the school year.

I want to recognize and thank some of my mentors and best supporters. Without Denise Eslinger and Mary Ann Teitelbaum, there would not be an active ELASPA. The two of them have revitalized and worked so hard to bring training to our, as Mary Ann calls it, “Small but Mighty” regional, ELASPA. Denise hired me for my first part time job when I retired in 2001. (Krista—you have a lot more years to go to catch up with me!) When Denise hired me, she was tech coordinator in the district before returning to school psychology. For us old people who did not grow up with technology, it was wonderful having a tech guru as a fellow school psych. She was the only school psych I know who had two desktops and a laptop on her desk.

And my OSPA pal, cohort, support, Conference Committee Co-Chair, and friend, Sal Karanouh-Schuler… OSPA life would never have been the same, or as much fun, without you.

Last and not least, my canoeing, fishing, skiing, snorkeling, traveling and life buddy who keeps me calm and sane, and gets me away to places where I can’t and don’t think of school psychology…Gary Breckenridge. Gary can even make it fun to be somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in Northwest Territories or Nunnavut with no electricity, no indoor toilet, and a million bugs!

Thank you.