Maine Department of Education and University of Southern Maine Partner to Increase School Psychology Supports in Maine

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the University of Southern Maine (USM) Department of Educational and School Psychology announced a new partnership to increase the number of school psychologists within the state and expand school psychology services for Maine’s students and schools.

With support from the Maine Department of Education, the University of Southern Maine has created a new, full-time clinical faculty position to expand internship programs within the state and prepare larger numbers of credentialed school psychologists to provide effective and comprehensive school-based services. School psychologists are trained and prepared to help schools improve academic achievement, promote positive behavior and mental health, create safe and supportive school environments, strengthen family-school partnerships, improve schoolwide assessment and accountability practices, and advance equitable practices for diverse populations.

“School psychologists play such an important role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of students and creating safe, welcoming, and supportive environments for our young people,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “The pandemic greatly increased the need for these supports in our schools and we’re excited to partner with the University of Southern Maine to provide a pathway to increase the number of school psychologists in Maine schools as well as offering additional supports and resources to current school psychologists.”

Dr. Samantha Blair has been selected to serve in this new role as a Clinical Assistant Faculty in the Department of Educational and School Psychology at the University of Southern Maine.

“I am excited to be a part of this collaboration with the University of Southern Maine and the Department of Education because I am committed to the professional development of school psychologists and working with stakeholders throughout Maine to support the work in the field,” said Dr. Blair. “I am looking forward to continuing to learn about the needs throughout the state, and through collaborative efforts increasing the number of school psychologists and expanding their role to increase access to high-quality comprehensive services to students throughout Maine.”

Blair will collaborate with school psychologists and schools across the state to design, coordinate, and supervise field-based training experiences in school psychology. She will assist with the development of comprehensive practicum and internship programs, support priority initiatives within partnering schools, provide supervision to school psychology trainees, and offer professional development in clinical supervision for school psychologists.

“The recently announced partnership between the Maine Department of Education and the University of Southern Maine is exciting news for the field of education, particularly special education. School psychologists play an integral role in supporting the educational and social emotional needs of students with disabilities,” said Gay McDonald, Executive Director of Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC). “As active members of the student’s educational team and as trained individuals to conduct the required comprehensive evaluations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, school psychologists are greatly needed in our schools. This partnership shows the Department’s commitment to address the shortage of school psychologists across the state and to assist in meeting the individual needs of our students. Such a collaborative effort will have a high impact for Maine students, and we applaud the MDOE and USM on this partnership.”