Both sides of the table

For Carrie Silkey ’19 ’21, the decision to become a school psychologist was rooted in her family’s experience.

“We have five children, and two of them have special education support. Our school psychologist was an absolute lifesaver and advocate for us as parents,” she says. “I wanted to be that for other families.”

When her youngest child entered middle school, Silkey decided that was the time to start graduate school. But not just any program would do.

“I chose Alverno because it gave me the ability to be home during the week for my family. We had classes every other weekend, so I could still be present for my family and do what I needed to do,” she explains.

Alverno’s School Psychology program prepares professionals to support students’ academic success and mental health. Students earn two degrees during the three-year program: a 30-credit Master of Science in Educational Psychology, which counts toward the more advanced 60-credit Educational Specialist (EdS) degree. Completion of the EdS degree makes graduates eligible to become licensed school psychologists in Wisconsin.

After being out of school for 15 years, Silkey admits her first semester was an adjustment. At one point, she found herself wondering: Could she really do this? But a heart-to-heart with an instructor changed her mind.

“She looked at me and said ‘don’t you dare quit. You need to be there for families,’” she recalls. “I’m glad she pushed me out of my comfort zone because she knew I was capable of doing this even if I didn’t see it in myself.”

Silkey credits the support of all her professors and her cohort for helping each other through the program, especially during the pandemic.

“I love my cohort. We’re spread out all over the state, but we talk all the time. They are friends that I will have for the rest of my life. And if I have a professional question, there’s no hesitation that we can call each other to talk through it.”

When Silkey and her cohort of earned their EdS degrees in May 2021, they become the first cohort to complete the program. Silkey now works with early childhood and elementary students in the West Bend School District.

“The students’ excitement for learning and happiness to be at school fuels my work. I love seeing a student feel successful,” she says. “And I love supporting families. I tell them I really do know what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table.”

Photo credit: Sarah Zakula Photography

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