Momo LaClair and Paige Stepanian
Staff Writers and Photographers
As the school psychologist at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, Elaine Howe has a very important role in the community. With all of the recent issues with school shootings, her position as school psychologist has been brought to the attention of many.
One of the things that Mrs. Howe does as the school psychologist is make sure students feel safe in the environment. Since the Parkland shooting, students have become more and more concerned with their safety at school. Students haven’t necessarily been going in to talk with Mrs. Howe personally, but many concerns have been brought to her attention from school safety meetings. Mrs. Howe has been attending the school safety team meetings because she feels that it is an important position to take action. “It’s important to be an advocate for striking a balance and making sure students feel safe without it being so secure that it feels like a prison,” said Mrs. Howe.
Not only is Mrs. Howe an advocate for school safety, she also has many other responsibilities during the school day. She attends a lot of meetings with administration and parents of those students she is helping. Also, she tests and helps students who are receiving special education services. This allows her to identify learning issues some students may have so she can provide them with resources to help them succeed. To go along with this, she sometimes talks with teachers if their students are struggling. She does this in order to accommodate students’ needs in the classroom, while also keeping teachers informed.
Along with teachers, Mrs. Howe works with the school counselors on a daily basis. The counseling team and Mrs. Howe’s work go hand-in-hand, however their work differentiates in certain ways. “Mrs. Howe is excellent at evaluating and understanding students with any special learning needs,” said Guidance Counselor Clete Gualtieri. While Mr. Gualtieri is more focused on student counseling and college preparation, Mrs. Howe is more focused on helping students with their learning needs. Student Counselor Will Hartley also works alongside Mrs. Howe. “If there is a student that we can both help we will work together to try and support them,” said Mr. Hartley. The skills that are brought by the counseling team compliment the educational support Mrs. Howe provides, resulting in a well working group. “We’re very much a team and we all work closely together, collaborating all the time to help students,” said Mr. Gualtieri.
In order to become a psychologist Mrs. Howe had to go through several years of schooling. She got her undergraduate degree at St. Lawrence University and got her bachelor’s degree of science and psychology. Then, she took her master's program at SUNY Oswego. As part of that training, she also had to do internships. She was an intern to a school counselor in the Oswego School District and also interned with a clinical psychologist that worked with veterans. After this experience she realized she didn’t want to go into clinical psychology and that being a school psychologist was the best fit for her.
Mrs. Howe has been working as a school psychologist for over 20 years now. However, not all of her years were spent at J-D. Her first jobs in school psychology were in a pre-schools and elementary schools around the area. Both of these jobs were different experiences than she’s had at J-D. While working with a variety of districts and ages, Mrs. Howe has seen many different ways her role can be implemented into the lives of students. At the pre-schools she worked at she was more involved in the students’ routine and did a lot more testing than she does now. Despite this, she still loves working in the J-DHS community.
Mrs. Howe is always available to the students and staff of J-DHS whenever you need it. Don’t hesitate to visit her if you need to talk or need help with a class, her door is always open.