School psychologists help ‘flip on the light’ for students
Strengthening mental health services -
For Robin Ettles and Christina Gallant MacLean, being a school psychologist in Prince Edward Island checks all the right professional and personal boxes.
A psychological assessment and care can be the key to school success for some students. Ettles says a large part of her work as a Public Schools Branch psychologist involves helping struggling students negotiate the world of school and learning.
“Generally when I see a child, they are aware that they may have an issue or a challenge,” she said. “I can help them to identify where their strengths are, and what the challenges may be to their learning.”
MacLean came to school psychology after more than a decade as a psychologist in the health system. She says she was anxious about the switch but incredibly happy with the welcome she received.
“I knew I had a lot to learn, but the amazing team here at the Public Schools Branch helped me out,” she said, adding that her background in mental health has helped her succeed in the school environment. A Prince Edward Island is actively recruiting psychology professionals to join its ranks and help students develop ways to fully succeed as learners.
A native Islander, MacLean said she has been very happy to be able to pursue her career and raise her family on PEI. She said the supportive workplace helps, and the natural beauty of the province doesn’t hurt.
“I love the outdoors; I paddleboard and kayak and golf. I really enjoy the summers here when everything is just a few minutes away,” she said.
Ettles has lived on the Island for years and says she’s very pleased with the decision.
“One of the best features of this work is that we are on a 10-month work year like teachers. It can be a real advantage to have the summers off when you live on Prince Edward Island,” she said. “There’s a very active music and arts community here, and summer is when there is so much happening.”
Ettles says she’d recommend working in Prince Edward Island’s education system to any of her colleagues in psychology.
“The workplace here is very supportive of you as a person and a professional. They understand that our work is important and also that we have an ethical code that we operate under; and they allow us to do it in the way that is best.”
MacLean is happy with her move to the Public Schools Branch. She said there’s no substitute for the feeling when students begin to understand themselves better and learn more effectively.
“It can be like a light goes on. They stop thinking that they’re stupid or too lazy for school – instead they begin to think ‘there’s something different about me and the way I work, but we can take steps that will allow me to learn.’”
“It can be a real reversal when a kid sees that they can do this,” MacLean said. “Sometimes, much later, you’ll run into a child or their parent in the community and they just say ‘thank you so much.’”
To apply for a psychologist or psychological associate position or any other job on Prince Edward Island, visit https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/school-psychologists .