The Shorewood School District has three psychologists: Abby Meier who works at Atwater Elementary and SIS, Hannah Wittenberg who works at Lake Bluff, and Tanisha Schowalter who works at SHS. Each one of them have different pathways that brought them to the profession, but the one thing they have in common is their passion for helping students and the relationships they build with them. Read below to see why they became psychologists, what they love most about their job, and a few mindfulness tips they advise for children.
Why did you become a school psychologist?
Abby: I became a school psychologist because of my past work as a prison researcher. I discovered during my time in Wisconsin prisons that many incarcerated individuals experienced hardships during their time in school, and many received special education services in the past, so this made me want to intervene more directly further down the school to prison pipeline.
Hannah: My cousin had a school psychologist who helped him when he was in elementary school; I wanted to be someone who advocated for students the way his school psych did for him!
Tanisha: My plan was to become a clinical psychologist but life led me in the direction of becoming an educator. I first became interested in school psychology as a teacher. There were times my path would cross with the building school psychologist during meetings and when needed for student collaboration. My encounters with the psychologist were always pleasant. The more challenges my students and families encountered the more I found myself having to collaborate with the school psychologist as I did not have the capacity and time to devote to problem solving down to the root cause of my students’ needs. I began to think that if I could get to the root of these challenges in a preventative manner then maybe I could remove some of them before they become a challenge or barrier that is experienced in the classroom.
What do you love best about your job?
Abby: What I love most about my job is how honest kids are! They really put things into perspective for me, especially when I'm having a crazy day at work.
Hannah: The best part of my job is getting to build relationships with students and be a familiar face for them in the building! I also love getting to problem solve on behalf of children and families.
Tanisha: Being a school psychologist is never boring because no two days are the same. Whether I am providing legal and compliance updates, working on evaluations, administering standardized assessments, providing interventions, analyzing data, facilitating meetings, problem-solving, chatting with students, lending an empathetic ear, trying out new assistive technology, or collaborating with staff it all leads back to my desire to help students and families work through their challenges.
What are you best mindfulness tips for kids?
Abby: Getting outside and being in nature -- this does wonders for your brain and your body, and helps you feel more grounded.
Hannah: One of my favorites is box breathing: breathe in your nose for 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, breathe out your mouth 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds. Use your finger to trace a box or square while you do it!
Tanisha: Unplug from your technology at least once per day to take in the sights, sounds and smells that are around you. Who knows you might grow to appreciate the simple things!