Presidential Perspective 2019-2020 #1

Dear ISPA Members,

It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you to another year of membership in the Illinois School Psychologists Association. My name is Mary Satchwell and I am honored to serve as the President of ISPA for the 2019-2020 membership year. This is my tenth year serving on the ISPA governing board and I look forward to leading our association in its 41st year serving our members across Illinois.

Over the past decade of my career, I have observed numerous important shifts in our field and seen firsthand how important the work of the school psychologist is in effecting positive outcomes for students. During the 2019-2020 membership year, I look forward to sharing more about the presidential theme, Circles of Strength and Success, as a way to conceptualize the evolving work of school psychologists. Practitioners have many stakeholders who benefit from and rely upon our professional skills and expertise. School Psychologists are uniquely positioned to engage in circles of influence at the individual, family, classroom, school, district, state, and national level. In addition to our individual work with students, teachers, families, and administrators, we can build collective strength as advocates through our work in wider circles at the school board, community, local, regional, and national levels. Serving as a positive force within the spheres of a family system, classroom atmosphere, building climate, ambassador to the wider community, an expert resource to policymakers, and a mentor to future colleagues requires strength, balance, and finesse. As an association, ISPA’s role should be to support the capacity of our members to be a strong positive force of influence in each sphere and among an increasingly complex system of stakeholders.

I urge you to consider how you can strengthen your own influence within the established spheres of your day to day work as a psychologist, student, trainer, or retiree. Speaking to high school or undergraduate students about your work as a school psychologist, attending workshops with nationally renowned speakers, participating in networking sessions with local colleagues as well as those practicing across Illinois, attending board meetings as a visitor, serving as volunteer on the governing board, working with professionals from across the country to learn about our role in key state and federal legislation impacting our work – these are just a few ways to engage in growing your professional skills while also increasing awareness of our field. Perhaps most importantly, engagement in continued professional development and educating others about our professional allows us to advocate for students’ mental health, social justice, and equity in educational opportunities.

Thanks to the hard work of the many volunteer leaders on our association’s board as well as dedicated committee and workgroup volunteers, ISPA continues to be one of the strongest state associations in our field. In 2019, despite the frigid temperatures of the polar vortex, more than 600 members made the trip to Springfield to take part in our annual convention, attending nationally renowned presenters, networking with colleagues, presenting research to practitioners, earning professional development credits, interviewing for employment opportunities, and enjoying time with fellow student, trainer, and practitioner members from across the state. ISPA’s advocacy efforts and collaboration with state leaders was instrumental in bringing the recognition of the NCSP credential as fulfillment of all required professional development for practitioners in Illinois, as well as the creation of a credential for field supervisors of graduate students completing internship or practicum placements. This credential is the first of its kind to be offered in any state, is free to ISPA members, and recognizes practitioners’ commitment and competency in supervision. In 2019, ISPA was invited to participate in the Illinois Terrorism Taskforce and is one of the only associations representing school practitioners as a standing liaison member of the task force. To learn more about the important work of this advisory body in shaping prevention and response to threats of terrorism, visit the ITTF website at Pages/default.aspx.

ISPA’s leadership has been actively engaging in strategic planning efforts to ensure the continued health of our association through enhanced benefits to both members and stakeholders as well as by closely aligning the work of the association with the issues that are most relevant to our members including students, trainers, researchers, practitioners, and distinguished retirees. In collaboration with other state association leaders and NASP leaders, ISPA has identified three key priority areas for the coming year: supporting a comprehensive practice model for school psychological services, ensuring safe and supportive learning environments, and addressing critical shortages of practitioners necessary to effectively meet the educational needs of Illinois students. The strategic planning process will continue as ISPA refines these focus areas and identifies short-term as well as long-term goals for achieving substantive and measurable progress in each area. ISPA’s continued strength depends upon the engagement of members and feedback on strategic planning goals and objectives is critical to shaping the future of our association. Please visit the ISPA website ( to find out how to get involved in association committees and workgroups, visit a meeting of the governing board, or contact ISPA leaders.

I look forward to meeting you at the 2020 ISPA Annual Convention at the Wyndham Springfield City Center on January 30 – February 1, 2020.


Mary Satchwell, Ph.D.

2019-2020 ISPA President