This year, the district welcomes new school psychologist Monica Guzman, who will work with teachers and students to administer special education tests and be a general support system to students.
Guzman has worked as a school psychologist since 2004, interacting with students as young as one-year-old all the way through high school-aged children, in school settings and at home.
In both cases, emphasizing a sense of belonging, unity, and understanding strengthens the entire support system for students, according to Guzman. Without this, students lose a vital part of their support system. She noted that to her, this is one of the most valuable parts of working as a psychologist.
Let’s truly acknowledge our differences so that we can communicate and listen to what we each need, as best we can.
“I’m really looking forward to being part of a team here. To me, [being a team]is like a triangle,” she said. “You have families, the school, and the community, so all those three things work together to raise and make amazing human beings.”
At the same time, Guzman emphasized that an integral piece of understanding someone is acknowledging that not all students fit the same mold. Some students have different experiences that vastly alter their lives, so not everyone can be compared to one another.
“When it comes to COVID, I keep hearing ‘We are all on the same boat.’ We are not. Some of us are in a yacht with amenities at our fingertips. On a good day, some of our boats can be best compared to Life of Pi. And other boats are shared rafts where we carry more than ourselves. So, we are not all on the same boat you see,” Guzman said. “Let’s truly acknowledge our differences so that we can communicate and listen to what we each need, as best we can.”
Guzman said that she understands these differences because of her background, and that because of these experiences, she believes she will be able to relate to and understand what students are going through.
“I had a really difficult time in high school, and I feel like a lot of times there aren’t adults that truly understand what teenagers go through,” Guzman said. “I feel like it really takes someone special to understand and hear out others.”
In her new position, the bulk of her work will be administering special education tests and writing reports. These are intended to give readers a sense of who the students are as a person, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. She will also connect students and their families with educators and administrators to ensure they receive the help they need.
“I feel like I can relate to a lot of different age groups, and part of that means instead of offering advice, I think it’s also really important to just listen,” Guzman said. “I think that’s why I just fell in love with it.”