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2015 - Early Career Award - Melissa Bestgen

 

Remarks from OSPA Awards Committee Co-Chair, Cindy Thompson

Melissa Bestgen completed her graduate training in school psychology at Cleveland State University, where she was widely recognized among her cohort as an enthusiastic student who readily stepped into formal and informal leadership roles. From her first moments of leadership in OSPA, her skills, competence, and dedication resulted in her being appointed to represent OSPA at the NASP Public Policy Institute in Washington, DC. As an attendee at the Institute, Melissa met with legislators and their staff members and compiled resources based on the NASP advocacy priorities. She presented to the OSPA Executive Board at an annual Summer Planning Meeting and continued to serve as a liaison between the Institute and our Board. She further consulted with the OSPA Executive Director and the Legislative Committee on ways OSPA could advocate for the NASP Practice Model, as well as improving mental health outcomes for Ohio students. Melissa’s remarkable involvement in the Public Policy Institute developed into her being appointed to a leadership role on the Executive Board as the Co-Chair of the Awards Committee. As Awards Committee Co-Chair, Melissa helped to: 1) update criteria/scoring rubrics for all awards, 2) develop a structured process for evaluating nominees, 3) streamline the awards presentation process, 4) implement new awards timeline procedure, 5) develop a new award to recognize early career school psychologists, and 6) update the Awards Committee section of OSPA website. Melissa has made countless and tireless efforts to recognize the distinguished achievements of her colleagues, with a particular emphasis on creating a nurturing environment where so many others have enjoyed their own moment in the sun. The Ohio School Psychologists Association is pleased to recognize Melissa Bestgen as the 2015 recipient of the OSPA Early Career Award.

Remarks from Melissa Bestgen

Thank you so much to the OSPA Exec board for this honor. It has been a very exciting five years and I owe so many people huge debts of gratitude for the opportunities that I’ve been given.

Thank you to Cleveland State University school psychology program for such a rigorous training program. Thank you to Dr. McNamara and the other amazing professors at Cleveland state, as well as to my cohort, especially Sagar Patel, who has been helping me bumble my way through school psychology since 2006.

Thank you to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District - Dr Noelle, Pam Honsa, Kelly Lavandowski and all the other amazing school psychs in Cleveland - for helping fix my mistakes during internship and my first year. Cleveland gave me such a solid foundation for practice and so much exposure to unique situations. I don’t think I would be the school psychologist I am today without the Cleveland schools being on my resume.

Thank you to OSPA for sending me to Washington - where I may have accidentally ridden in a private elevator and talked about sending Chick-fil-A through an x-ray machine, so good choice there. Thank you for welcoming me into this amazing network of school psychologists.

Thanks to my current district, Wickliffe, for trusting such a young school psychologist with so many leadership responsibilities and just letting me be the person I am in the district.

And finally, even though he couldn’t be here today, thanks to my husband Andy, who has an honorary school psych degree for all the help he has given me. He’s let me practice IQ tests on him numerous times (he is pretty solidly between and 110 and 120), helped me word ETRs (he’s an English major), and generally supported all of the things I’ve gotten myself into over the past five years. He and my little daughter June are pretty awesome.

Take a look around the room and see at how many “baby psychs” are here today, how many of you who are so new to your programs. You guys are rocking it in your training programs and in your first couple of years in your districts! You got this! Everyone take a look around at who you could nominate for his next year.

Thank you so much!

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