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SJU Psychology Professor Receives Leadership Award

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A St. John’s University professor of psychology, Dawn Flanagan, Ph.D., is the 2014 recipient of the New York Association of School Psychologists (NYASP) Gil Trachtman Leadership Award in School Psychology. The award recognizes “a school psychologist who has made a significant contribution to the field” through teaching, research, or supervision.

“The leadership Dr. Flanagan has demonstrated at St. John's University is deserving of this recognition,” said Mark Terjesen, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and director of graduate programs in school psychology. “She has been influential in her teaching, research, and professional contributions to the field.” Flanagan, he added, has prepared students to contribute to the quality of educational and professional services for at-risk children.

Flanagan said she finds the honor particularly meaningful because she knew Gil Trachtman—the late NYU school psychology professor and leader in the field for whom the award is named. “In the earliest days of my career at St. John’s,” she explained, “I attended school psychology consortium meetings and I always saw Gil. He continually conveyed to me that he had high expectations for the work I was doing here and noted that my research could influence the field.”

In addition to teaching and mentoring students, Flanagan frequently makes professional development presentations and leads workshops. She also has shared her knowledge through peer-reviewed publications, books, book chapters, and online training materials. “I’ve been training school psychologists across the country and abroad for 20 years,” she said. “I’m grateful that my work has had a positive impact on the field, particularly regarding the manner in which school psychologists conduct cognitive assessment for diagnosis and intervention.”   

Along with her colleagues, Flanagan developed “cross-battery assessment” (XBA). “The approach,” she said, “was specifically developed to ‘spell out’ how to conduct assessments that measure the total range of abilities more adequately than what is possible with most stand-alone tools, such as IQ tests, achievement tests, and neuropsychological batteries.”

To achieve excellence in the field, Flanagan noted, school psychologists need a commitment to lifelong learning, a willingness to place children and their families first, and sensitivity to diverse and dynamic student populations. “It’s important to comprehend each child’s individual patterns of strengths and weaknesses,” she explained. “It takes patience to understand the child’s unique life and educational experience to reveal his or her potential for success.”  

She added, “I find teaching to be rewarding, especially when I see students develop the passion, enthusiasm, and skills necessary to make a positive difference in the lives of the children and families they will eventually serve.”