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Cabarrus Magazine

CCS’ Psychological Services Coordinator Recognized for Innovation from the North Carolina School Psychology Association

Jan 07, 2019 07:33AM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Courtesy of the CCS Board of Education Awards & Recognitions November, 2018 video.

Amy Lowder, Cabarrus County Schools’ Psychological Services Coordinator, was awarded the Innovative Practices Award from the North Carolina School Psychology Association in November 2018. Lowder was recognized specifically for her work on the Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) model for the district.

The award itself is for individuals who put into practice innovative ideas that benefit students. "This award specifically highlights the work that Cabarrus County Schools is doing to address student safety and wellbeing through the use of a collaborative model of multi-disciplinary support that focuses on prevention and tiered interventions to help students be more successful," Lowder told us. "This work could not be done without the dedication and persistence of the Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) staff – the school counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and resource officers in Cabarrus County Schools – who carry out the support for student safety and wellbeing every day."

In early November at a Cabarrus County Board of Education meeting, Lowder was recognized and presented with the award. 

We wanted to know more about Lowder and her experience receiving this award, so we reached out to her. She took some time to answer a few questions for us. Read on to see what amazing things she has been doing for the students within the Cabarrus County community.


Tell us a little bit about yourself. Have you always had a passion for education? 

I grew up in Cabarrus County Schools and am very appreciative of the education I received here. I attended college and worked overseas for several years, but I wanted to return to this area because I was always eager to be able to “give back” a little of what I received from this district. So, I began my career as a school psychologist in Cabarrus County Schools in 2002 then transitioned into the district’s Psychological Services Coordinator role in 2011. 

Our county has grown quite a bit since my childhood memories of it, but Cabarrus County Schools is still a very special place to me and I am hopeful that I will be able to make a positive impact for students in my service to this school district. 

Congratulations on receiving the Innovative Practices Award from the North Carolina School Psychology Association! Did you anticipate receiving it?

Receiving this award has been a great honor. It is one of two awards presented annually at the state’s school psychology conference.

I was nominated for the award by our school psychologist team in Cabarrus County Schools, and our school psychologist colleagues from across the state of North Carolina selected me as the recipient of this award. I had no idea that I had even been nominated, so it came as quite a surprise to me. 

It’s been really special being recognized by the professionals with whom I work. The award itself is for individuals who put into practice innovative ideas that benefit students – this award specifically highlights the work that Cabarrus County Schools is doing to address student safety and well-being through the use of a collaborative model of multi-disciplinary support that focuses on prevention and tiered interventions to help students be more successful. This work could not be done without the dedication and persistence of the Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) staff – the school counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and resource officers in Cabarrus County Schools – who carry out the support for student safety and well being every day. 

So, in essence, this award recognizes all of the SISP’s hard work in addressing safety and wellness, mental health/trauma, and crisis prevention/response/recovery across our district.


What has it been like since receiving the award?

There are several educators and school districts across the state and nation who have reached out to us to ask what they need to be considering when creating a district-wide model of support to address mental health and social-emotional supports. We can provide them our successes and challenges and important areas to consider when they are developing their own models, but it is important to remember that no model is perfect  – we continuously acknowledge that there is ongoing room for improvement in what we are doing – but if we can help others who also have limited resources and personnel to figure out better ways to meet student needs, then there is good in that conversation. 

What do you think contributed to your receiving of this award? 

I am blessed with a wonderful and encouraging husband; three charming children who contribute to my growth and learning more than they probably realize; a hugely supportive team of school psychologists who believe in comprehensive school psychological service delivery, in pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones, and in being passionate about making a difference in kids’ lives; and I maintain positive working relationships with personnel across the district who are strong advocates for students and who trust their staff to do great things! 

I am very grateful for being recognized as the recipient of the NC School Psychologist Association’s (NCSPA) Innovative Practice Award, but I must say that I am only one person who has contributed to the development and implementation of the SISP model in Cabarrus County Schools. It truly does take a collaborative team to successfully incorporate this work and the district has been very supportive in making this work a priority. I have spent many years trying to break down barriers and build up strong support systems to encourage awareness and collaboration but there are numerous individuals with these same goals who work alongside me and it is this teamwork and the support of the district that has led to its success. 

Do you have a memorable moment? 

We had a previously-scheduled family event the evening the award was presented at the recent NCSPA conference and I was disappointed that I was unable to attend the awards ceremony. However, the Cabarrus County Schools' psychologists met me the following morning and presented the award to me after some of them accepted it on my behalf the previous night! It was especially nice having them there with me that morning to celebrate their efforts and to let them know how much I appreciate them!  

What's one of your goals moving forward?

[My goal is to] continue to help others become aware of the possibilities they have to make true differences in the lives of children and adolescents... and help them act on that awareness. We live in a world that tends to focus on the negative, so I think people sometimes lose hope in their roles, especially when time, money, and staff are not plentiful and when they feel stuck in a cycle that doesn’t work  But what we believe, what we do, how we do it - all of this matters in the lives of our students. 

When you aren't winning innovative awards, what's something you do for fun?

I’m sure you could catch us at a volleyball game or out in the yard playing football or basketball with the kids. Or hiking and canoeing in the mountains. Or eating international cuisine with friends. And we live on a farm, so you might find us doing chores or bottling up honey from our bees! 

Anything else we should know? 

I am grateful for the incredible team of people I work with – the SISP staff in Cabarrus County Schools are doing GREAT things and I am so glad when their hard work and tireless efforts are noticed across our state and nation.


The group of school psychologists from Cabarrus County Schools the morning of the awards.

 

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