“I feel like I’m just doing my job. I don’t feel like I’m going above and beyond to a degree deserving of an award. I care about and advocate for each student with whom I work, but I would think that all school psychologists are doing that and I would think all those working in education are doing that,” Reeder, who earned his both his Bachelor’s and Educational Specialist degrees in psychology from Western Kentucky University, said. “And I don’t even know who nominated me. I am the only school psychologist for Henry County and generally it is a peer or coworker who submits nominations for the award. So either another employee in the district went out of their way to nominate me when they typically aren’t even aware of this award, or a psychologist from another district nominated me. It puts into perspective the impact I hope to have in the field of school psychology.”
A primary role for school psychologists is to evaluate students to determine their eligibility for special education services. In HCPS, Reeder also serves as the Multi-tiered System of Supports coordinator, an initiative in place to provide support to students who are having behavioral and academic difficulties to they don’t fall behind.
“Mr. Reeder is our only district school psychologist, and what he does for this district, teachers and students is invaluable. He is a great resource to have beyond just psychological testing for special education. Mr. Reeder takes an active role at all schools in reviewing response to intervention data with teachers,” said HCPS Superintendent Terry Price. “Teachers regularly seek out Mr. Reeder seeking advice and strategies related to students’ various needs. Without question, his knowledge in his field positively impacts the lives of students who may be struggling in a specific area.”
Reeder said he knows first-hand how one caring adult can make a positive and lasting impact on a student’s trajectory. It drives him to advocate for students.
“If I can be even a small part of that positive outcome on a student, I will consider that a success,” said Reeder, who also teaches a dual credit psychology course to our high school students through a partnership with Midway University. “I want to see students receive the help they need. I want to see students strengthen their weaknesses. I want students to feel empowered about their education and their behavior.”
Both Price and Niki Whitaker, HCPS director of special education, said Reeder’s commitment to the students of HCPS is apparent in every aspect of his work, which encompasses a variety of duties for over 2,000 students from preschool to seniors in high school.
“Sean excels as a school psychologist in multiple ways. He is able to juggle the many hats he has to wear in a district of our size with ease. His ability to balance all of his responsibilities while keeping the best interest of students at the forefront of every situation is impeccable,” Whitaker said.
From his perspective, Reeder likes the variety his position with the district affords him.
“My favorite part of the job is that no two days are the same. Every day is a new puzzle and it feels like I’m trying to put the pieces together,” Reeder said. “I get to work directly with students to help support their success in the classroom. I get to collaborate with teachers to help support challenges students may face in the classroom. I work with administrators to plan broadly to support the needs of the majority of students. I’m always doing something different.”
With the recent passage of Senate Bill 1, which increases requirements for mental health professionals in Kentucky schools, Reeder believes the role of school psychologists will also expand to accommodate the ever-increasing needs of students.
“With a recent societal and legislative emphases on topics like mental health, trauma informed care, and social/emotional learning, I believe we will see our role expand into providing more direct support to students. I think people will begin to recognize the broad skillset that school psychologists possess,” Reeder said, who noted that in many school districts psychologists are restricted to completing evaluations for special education services – a narrow view of what school psychologists can actually do. “With increased advocacy for our profession, I believe we will see more individuals seeking certification as school psychologists and, as a result, more broad support for the unique challenges students are facing.”