Jessica Dirsmith recently delivered an acceptance speech to a crowd she estimates fell somewhere in the range of 300 to 400 people.
Public speaking is one of the unfortunate byproducts of achievement and Dirsmith had recently locked down the State School Psychologist of the Year Award for her work in the State College Area School District.
She said she wasn’t nervous. Fanfare is not something one pays much attention to when contemplating a career in education, especially in a role that Dirsmith says operates largely outside of the spotlight.
“I think that most of us aren’t in it to be recognized. We’re kind of behind the scenes,” Dirsmith said.
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I think that most of us aren’t in it to be recognized. We’re kind of behind the scenes.
There’s not much waiting to be found in the wings of that expansive production known as SCASD. Dirsmith has been with the district for five years and works with the Delta, Reclaiming Individual Talent and Heart’s programs.
Throw in some occasional data analysis and what’s not to enjoy?
“I love it, like, I love everything about it. Even the simple things like morning greetings,” Dirsmith said.
Megan Hutchinson, a SCASD school psychologist who works with the staff at Park Forest Elementary, Houserville Elementary and Lemont Elementary, wrote the letter of support that precipitated the award.
Over the course of a few paragraphs, Hutchinson praised her colleague’s wide base of knowledge and ability to problem solve.
Many who work in this field, including Jess, are humble and don't always want the attention, but it's important to celebrate success and the positive impact one person can have.
“Many who work in this field, including Jess, are humble and don’t always want the attention, but it’s important to celebrate success and the positive impact one person can have,” Hutchinson said.
She was sitting in the audience during Dirsmith’s acceptance speech, which touched on the need to mentor the next generation of school psychologists.
Dirsmith practices what she preaches, teaching classes over at Penn State and supervising student clinicians. During the summers, she focuses on her private practice work.
Much of her energy remains marshaled toward helping students feel good about themselves as learners.
“We want to do our best to support every child and get them what they need,” Dirsmith said.