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Spotlight Honorees

NAPSA publishes a Spotlight feature in our monthly TidBits. We hope this will promote excellence and increase networking and as we feature the outstanding professionals within the ranks of the members of NAPSA. If you’d like to recommend featuring a member you know in a future Spotlight segment, please submit by clicking here: https://forms.gle/KyeVYsrPgy4easyaA


December 2021

Garcia Dixon
Garcia Dixon

Employer: Charles County (MD) Public Schools

Title: Supervising Pupil Personnel Worker

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is supervising a strong team of Pupil Personnel Workers that share the same passion that I possess; in wanting to do whatever is necessary to help students overcome any barriers that may possibly interfere with their overall academic success. It is rewarding to connect families to much needed resources such as food, clothing, holiday assistance, health and counseling services, to name a few. We care a great deal for our students and their families, and will implement and utilize various programs and strategies, such as mentoring groups, afterschool clubs, tutoring and partnerships with community organizations to provide support to students and their families.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
The greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member is the opportunity it gives to me in obtaining resources and training to share with my Student Services department. I particularly enjoyed the most recent NAPSA conference because it really focused on the current issues that students are experiencing during this pandemic, and how we as educators can provide trauma focused support and strategies to assist students in achieving academically during this challenging time.


November 2021

Nancy Turner
Dr. Nancy Turner

Employer: Rock Hill (SC) School District

Title: Director of Mental Health

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my work is providing a meaningful platform to bring together effective and diverse teams within the school district and community stakeholders. With these teams, we are able to problem-solve pressing and timely issues pertaining to mental health and wellness. The teams prioritize, research and problem-solve creative and innovative mental health services and/or programming. This process creates an atmosphere that has provided open, honest communication to support the changes that we have identified as the greatest needs for serving the mental health needs of our District. Implementation of well-designed, innovative services have proven to be beneficial to all of our students and is a personally rewarding aspect of my work.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
As the recently hired and first Director of Mental Health for Rock Hill Schools, it is exciting to see that the 2021 NAPSA conference is specifically focused on Trauma, Resiliency and Support. As a NAPSA member, I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn about varied interventions, effective strategies, and implementation of innovative initiatives to support students’ academic, social, emotional, and physical needs. It is encouraging to know that NAPSA is committed to creating a world where all students can be provided appropriate supports, services, and programs to overcome their barriers to learning.


October 2021

LaCoyya Weathington
LaCoyya Weathington

Employer: Cherry Hill Public Schools

Title: Assistant Superintendent Compliance, Equity and Student Services. I also serve as the District Affirmative Action Officer, the District Title IX Officer and am the District Antibullying Coordinator. In addition, I serve as a trustee on the board of the New Jersey Association of Pupil Services Administrators.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I am fortunate to work with an innovative team that is committed to collaboration. We work collectively for the success of students in our district and our work in pupil services has a specific focus on students with disabilities and student wellness. Our district is in the midst of very exciting work focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion and we have two new programs addressing student and staff mental health that I am very excited about implementing.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
It is always comforting to work with colleagues who have similar experiences and who can lend their support, offer advice, or just listen and be a thought partner. NAPSA’s support is invaluable in this role.


September 2021

Kim Stevens
Kim Stevens

Employer: Bear Creek Community Charter School

Title: Director of Student Affairs

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of Pupil/Student Services is the students. It is incredibly rewarding to put programs and services in place that enable students to overcome barriers to reach their fullest potential.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
The greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member is having a network of amazing professionals with whom I can share issues and situations. I find it helpful to have colleagues who have similar as well as different experiences than my own in order to gain knowledge, expertise, and support. As a Pupil Services Administrator, we are often singletons in our school or district. Having a network of professionals to reach out to is an invaluable resource. I appreciate being a member of NAPSA!


August 2021

Jeanne Knouse
Jeanne Knouse

Employer: State College Area School District

Title: State College Area School District’s Director of Student Services and going on year 2 as the District’s Pandemic Coordinator

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my job right now is the ability to train and use restorative practices every day and then to hear my colleagues using it and sharing their stories about the successes they have experienced with staff, students, and parents through putting those things to use. In addition, I feel rewarded every day, mostly because I work with an amazing team of professionals who truly love and care for our students, but also because my job pulls from my strengths as a problem solver and servant leader.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
By far, the greatest benefit of being part of NAPSA is having so much experience, knowledge, and expertise at your fingertips. Being able to share those tough situations that pupil services directors come across so often with other NAPSA members can save you so much time, energy, and anxiety. I have found that no matter how rare or crazy the situation is, someone has had the same experience, or something similar, and can provide you with direction or a path to move forward.


July 2021

Jeffrey Carpenter
Jeffrey Carpenter

Employer: Prince George’s County Public Schools

Title: Director of Employee and Labor Relations, Prince George’s County Public Schools. Prior to this, I served in Student Services as a School Psychologist for six years, and then four years as Special Education Supervisor for Winton Woods City Schools in Forest Park, Ohio. This was followed by five years as Director of Student Services for Arlington Public Schools in Arlington Virginia, and then three years as Executive Director of Student Services for Alexandria City Public Schools in Alexandria, Virginia.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

  • Planning supports and services for students and families.
  • I enjoy problem-solving.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?

  • Networking. The board members are great and very knowledgeable. Also, connecting with others across the US in student services leadership positions.
  • Attending the conferences – Specific PD for Student Services professionals is hard to find. NAPSA has been great at filling the void.


June 2021

Lynne Duncan
Lynne Duncan

Employer: Talbot County (MD) Public Schools

Title: Assistant Superintendent for Administrative and Support Services. Because Talbot County Public Schools is a relatively small school system, my position includes the oversight of Student Services, Human Resources, Transportation, and Plant Operations.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
My role allows me to continue serving the students, families, and employees in our school community whether it involves student transportation, the physical plant where students learn, and/or the myriad of issues that Student Services handles every day. The Student Services Department includes Pupil Services Workers, Social Workers, School Health Professionals, and School Counselors. Through continued advocacy and support, we have been able to strengthen the department by adding the positions of a Mental Health Coordinator, a Dropout Prevention/Re-Engagement Specialist, a Behavior Specialist/Teacher Consultant, an Addiction Intervention Specialist, and a Family Navigator. All of the departments in the administrative and support services division work together to provide the best individual opportunities possible for our students.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
Even when transitioning to a new position, I kept my NAPSA membership due to the wealth of information provided to its members. We all have the same goals: keeping abreast of the latest trends; learning from others who have faced similar challenges; and the availability of professional development opportunities. In addition to being able to tap in to the relevant state and national requirements and initiatives, NAPSA also takes us out of our local and state issues for a review of what is happening across the country. It is comforting on many levels to know that we are all facing similar challenges and have a resource such as NAPSA to assist us through networking as well as up to date information that directly impacts the way we design and structure our service delivery.


May 2021

Maria Edelberg
Maria Edelberg

Employer: Delaware County (PA) Intermediate Unit

Title: Executive Director

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Working with incredibly talented professional and support staffs to deliver quality programs and services to our families, children, and communities. It is rewarding to visit our many programs and observe the great work we do. We touch so many lives of children and families. Our staff at DCIU provide a vast array of supports through professional development opportunities, curriculum development and implementation, consultation services and direct programming. Being part of an organization that cares so deeply for our families and stakeholders and thrives to the provide excellence in services and programs is extremely rewarding.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
Being part of an organization whose goal is to provide leadership, development, and resources for administrators serving or supporting the role of pupil services is so vital in today’s world. Being able to keep abreast of best practices in the areas of academic, social, and emotional tools and interventions is important as well as how to integrate these services within a school culture and environments are essential to support the whole child and the educational community.


April 2021

Cheryl M. Cardone
Cheryl M. Cardone

Employer: Grand Island (NY) Central School District

Title: Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Services

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my position is: even though I am a District Administrator, I still have daily contact with the building administrators, teachers, students and parents. It is also so rewarding to be working and living in the community so that I can be involved in supporting all stakeholders. My two daughters also graduated from Grand Island Schools. Additionally, I appreciate the teamwork that has occurred during the pandemic and how we have all supported each other.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
As a NAPSA trustee, the greatest benefit is the networking that takes place not only at our meetings but at the National Conference as well. It is imperative that as professionals, we can dialogue and share information specific to our responsibilities. As a member of NAPSA, the opportunities for information, dialogue and benefits are endless. Our upcoming conference in October 2021 has important and extremely relevant speakers, vendors and board members! Please consider attending this rewarding opportunity!


March 2021

Frank M. Bruno
Dr. Frank M. Bruno

Employer: Retired

Title: I have worked as a High School and Middle School Science Teacher for nine years, a Middle School and High School Assistant Principal and Principal for 23 years in various schools, and a Director of Pupil Services for 17 years

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I have worked as a High School and Middle School Science Teacher for nine years, a Middle School and High School Assistant Principal and Principal for 23 years in various schools, and a Director of Pupil Services for 17 years

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
The greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member is establishing a professional network with people across the country, who share your job, responsibilities, problems, and goals. You are not alone and probably not the first to encounter the various situations with which you must deal. The exchange of information and experience available is priceless!


February 2021

Brad Christensen
Dr. Brad Christensen

Employer: Davis School District, Farmington, Utah

Title: I have worked for the past 11 years as Director of Student and Family Resources for the Davis School District in Utah.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I have felt the most rewarding aspect of the work we do is to build positive relationships with others and to look for opportunities every day to “be the one” particularly as it relates to the important work we are doing in the lives of all children, educators, and our community. Each one of us can make a difference for good in helping our students and those around us succeed in reaching their goals and aspirations academically, socially, and emotionally. Our motto in the Davis School District has been “Learning First”. All educators in our district have embraced the belief that “Every child is one caring adult away from being a success story.” (Josh Shipp)

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
The greatest benefits of being a NAPSA member are the opportunities to connect with other Pupil Services leaders, relevant Professional Development resources, training opportunities, national conferences, and being informed on the evidence based best practices in the field. In addition, NAPSA membership provides national advocation through the organization in the critical work we are doing for students, families, and the districts we serve. This has been particularly evident and timely this past year as we have all looked to our NAPSA leadership for guidance during the pandemic. I have felt supported with the positive informational content provided as a result of my NAPSA membership and will continue to be a participating member of our organization.


January 2021

Larrissa Henderson
Dr. Larrissa Henderson

Employer: Oak Ridge Schools, Oak Ridge, TN

Title: Director of Pupil Services, which means I wear a lot of very different hats from attendance, discipline, food services, foster care, homeless, migrant, immigrants, ELL, school nurses, court liaison, Title IX coordinator, Title VI, and Title III. I call Pupil Services the “customer service department for the school district.”

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is working with and helping students and their families. My day changes hourly and the change can be overwhelming, but I enjoy a good challenge every now and then.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
There is not one single benefit but a plethora of benefits! NAPSA is small enough to get to know members on a personal level but the wealth of information shared via conferences and the NAPSA website is phenomenal! You get information from some of the top professionals in the field of school leadership, school administration as well as information on “hot topics” currently affecting schools. NAPSA members develop a special bond that most organizations strive to have. I never attended a conference or read the monthly newsletter that I did not come away with some tidbit of information that I could use or share with my colleagues. Some of the conference speakers have been very mind-blowing with their presentations that you look forward to the next conference!
Membership also gives you certain perks like professional liability insurance – plus very well-informed members who can direct or provide you with other pertinent information relating to your job. NAPSA brings the concept of networking to a level of its own. I have made friends that I enjoy seeing each year and that I can reach out should I have a question about an issue. We all live in different states, with different school guidelines and rules but one thing is certain – We all work with kids and their families!


December 2020

Kathy Setlock
Kathy Setlock

Employer: Palmyra Area School District, Lebanon County, PA

Title: Director of Pupil Services

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I most enjoy the everyday positives that come from the support and guidance the pupil services team provides to students and families. Over the last 33 years, I’ve seen the increasing challenges students and families face. The pupil services team is a much more vital part of the school team and when everyone works together, we’re able to see students thrive and grow. As we say in the district, #IGetToWorkHere!

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
NAPSA is one-stop shopping! The responsibilities of a Director of Pupil Services continue to grow. Often, we’re looked at for guidance and expertise in the many areas that fall under the large umbrella of pupil services. NAPSA provides resources and support in all the key areas, whether that be through webinars, newsletters, conferences, and/or connections with colleagues. It’s also good to know that NAPSA provides a voice for us at the federal level.


November 2020

Shontria Carrington
Shontria Carrington

Employer: Guilford County Schools, North Carolina

Title: Supervisor of Dropout Prevention and School Social Work Services

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Promoting the use of established protocols and the district’s mission by establishing supportive structures for school social workers, dropout designees and graduation coaches, that grants them the opportunity to provide consistent preventive and intervention services of support to students and families.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
Having the opportunity to glean professional insight from respected leaders that operate and serve in programs that meet the needs of students that cater to the child as a whole (academic, physical, and social/emotional).


October 2020

Paul Bigham
Paul Bigham

Employer: Mechanicsburg School District

Title: Director of Organizational Development, Student Services Coordinator

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
A job in the student services arena is on where no day is routine and in order to achieve success, one must work as a member of a collaborative team. I am truly blessed to work in an organization like the Mechanicsburg Area School District, where the pulse of the community has a harmonic beat focused on meeting the needs of our children. The Board, administrative team, faculty, parents, students, and community organizations all take an important role in balancing the system designed to support the school program. Some may feel this is descriptive of Utopian society; however, we have our share of “problems” as well. Every organization has hardship, unmet needs, and stories that keep you awake at night. The difference is perspective.
Student Services administration provides opportunity of accepting these issues as challenges to overcome; rather than items to fear or avoid. We have the opportunity to be agents of change. Rita Pierson said it best; “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” A job in the field of Student Services is hard, but can also be fulfilling. The ability to forge relationships serve as the most rewarding aspect of my work, which is so much more than a “job”. I credit my mother for this perspective. She taught me to find a career where you love what you do, so you never have to work a day in your life.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
A NAPSA membership provides opportunities for ongoing professional learning, legal updates, and a fluid network to others working in the many areas of student services. Student Services Administration is a post that varies from state to state, and from district to district within each state. Our district collaborates within a consortium of six local districts where each district has a different approach to the oversight of student service programs. Information received from a NAPSA membership assists in guiding practice toward the possible integration of programs between districts.
The annual conference provides opportunity for authentic connections to others who share a passion for student services. Relevant topics in combination with engaging presenters equate to a conference that should be at the top of every Student Service Administrator’s conference list.


September 2020

Karyn Brown
Karyn Brown

Employer: Spring Grove Area School District

Title: Director of Pupil Services / School Safety & Security Coordinator

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I love the variety of projects in my position. I never want to lose the connection to students. On my worst days, I find myself checking in on an elementary class. No days are ever the same! I enjoy the collaboration within Spring Grove. We bounce stuff off of each other all the time to ensure the message or directive is accurate. In these awkward times, knowing you are not alone in the battle is a gift.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
Receiving updates in legal cases or newly implemented programming that has been successful in other states provides me with the big picture. NAPSA is the resource to reach out to other districts or states for program recommendations, etc. As a Pupil Services admin, my role is to consider the whole child, including their social emotional needs. It’s wonderful to be able to reach out to colleagues through NAPSA to share ideas.


August 2020

Valerie Riedthaler
Dr. Valerie Riedthaler

Employer: ESC of Northeast Ohio

Title: Independent Hearing Officer

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Helping kids and their families!

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
The emails and the professional liability insurance coverage.


July 2020

Thomas O'Brien
Thomas O’Brien, Ph.D., Ed.D.

Employer: Immaculata University

Title: Dean, College of Graduate Studies

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I enjoy working with men and women seeking to further their education within the profession of their choosing. It is rewarding to hear them say that they not only received information within their studies but formation as an ethically responsible leader to be of service to their profession and the community.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
I have taught a doctoral course titled Pupil Personnel Services and always find information from NAPSA that I can use with students that is relevant and timely. Because of the interest students have when they take the course and finish, I received PDE approval for Immaculata University to offer the certification in Pupil Personnel Services. It has been widely received and it is possible to take all the classes completely online.


April 2020

Lisa Hildebrand
Lisa Hildebrand

Employer: Vandalia Butler City Schools

Title: Director of Student Services

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is hearing the success stories of our students over time. We work through some difficult situations and when we see tremendous growth and maturity, it makes it all worth it!

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
The greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member is without a doubt…..the networking!


May 2020

Donna Stelze
Donna Stelze

Employer: Madison Champaign Educational Service Center

Title: Executive Director of Ohio Association of Pupil Services Administrators and Administrative Specialist

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my work is having the opportunity to interact with so many individuals who have an impact on the success of students with disabilities. In my current role, I meet and/or interact regularly with key stakeholders in Ohio and national groups such as Ohio Department of Education’s State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children, the Ohio Coalition for Education of Children with Disabilities Governing Board, the Council of Administrators of Special Education, the National Association of Pupil Service Administrators and the Ohio Association of Pupil Services Administrators. In turn, I have the pleasure of sharing that information which I learned with other Student Services/Special Education Administrators throughout our state as well as other members of each of those groups. I especially love working with groups to address the shortage of Special Education and Related Service Staff and currently work with the Ohio Related Service Shortage Work-group, the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Related Services as well as working on a work group with some Ohio legislators on a plan to increase funding to schools to ensure equity among districts including addressing the shortage in hard to fill personnel areas in Special Education, Related Services and other hard to fill educational positions in certain regions of our state.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
I’m simply not able to list the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member because there are so many benefits! I think the benefit I discuss with other Student Services Administrators most frequently is the great liability policy which NAPSA provides to all members. I always consider the NAPSA Conference a huge benefit because the presentations and networking opportunities are top notch! The resources including newsletters and NAPSA Tidbits keep members updated with latest information plus best practices. I also love that NAPSA reminds all members of special days and special months along with clip art we can use for each of the Student Services Disciplines such as “Social Work Month” and “Social Work Day.”


April 2020

Sarah Walker
Sarah Walker

Employer: Amherst Exempted Village Schools (Ohio)

Title: Director of Student Services

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my job involves the relationships I have built over the years with my families and with my staff. Together we have worked to create and develop programs and strategies to help move our students and the district forward. I am very proud of the district and the Amherst community!

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?
Being able to network with members fromother states who are doing the same work, just maybe approaching it a little differently, is one of the greatest benefits of being a NAPSA member.