A Day in the Life with a Success Academy School Psychologist
After four years working as a school psychologist in Chicago-area public schools, Angela Moyer and her husband decided to move to New York City. As she began researching job opportunities in her new home, a friend told her to check out Success Academy — and it quickly piqued her interest. First, Angela found SA’s mission — to prove that children from all backgrounds can succeed in college and in life — inspiring. Second, she loved the flexibility afforded to SA school psychologists, who can work both directly in classrooms as well as in individual counseling sessions. Angela decided to apply.
Angela and Success Academy Fort Greene proved to be a strong match, and in August 2015, she joined the faculty as an elementary school psychologist. Now Angela works directly with scholars, teachers, school leadership, and families to develop strategies for scholars to grow and learn not just academically, but also socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. Every day, she draws upon her robust foundational training, having earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in educational psychology and methodology from the University of Albany, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Study in school psychology.
We recently spent a day with Angela to learn what it takes to to help children achieve the highest degree of success — inside and outside the classroom.
I start my day very early. I wake up, make coffee, get ready, say goodbye to my family, and then head to the Long Island Rail Road station where I catch the 5:27 AM train. I usually have some time to get organized, set up my office, and prepare my to-do list before scholars arrive!
I greet every scholar on his or her way into school. It’s a great opportunity for me to gauge how different scholars are doing and to get a pulse for the day. It’s also extremely important for children to be greeted each morning by adults — we make sure every child feels welcomed into the school building and has a sense of belonging.
Using my observations from morning arrival, I check in with five or six scholars who might need a boost before transitioning to class time, which can be the hardest part of the day for some kids. Throughout the day, I also touch base with teachers to see if any scholars need individual support.
In the morning, I often pull a few scholars into my office to work in small groups — I have the freedom to determine which scholars to work with and when. In my kindergarten groups, we often work on expressive and receptive language skills, which help with developing vocabulary, verbal expression, and ultimately, writing.
I spend a lot of time going into classrooms and teaching lessons on things like social-emotional learning and writing about feelings. It’s one of my favorite responsibilities at Success Academy, and it allows me to work with almost every scholar in the school — not just the ones who come to my office.
I work closely with teachers and other school staff, and they are always very open to my professional help. We have an open-door policy, allowing me to slip in and out of classes to assess how scholars are doing. We have developed a strong sense of camaraderie. When working long hours, a group of friendly faces makes a big difference.
One of the best parts of my job is how flexible it is. I can pop into a gym class and have some silly moments with scholars — while also observing if one of the kids I work with is using the strategies we had discussed earlier.
My afternoons typically include individual and group counseling, meetings with teachers or families, and spending time observing classrooms. At the end of the day, certain scholars stop by my office to do their checkouts, which helps us determine what went well, what was challenging, and how we can work together to make tomorrow even better.
Building relationships with parents is critical, so I like to grab a quick moment at dismissal to let them know how their scholars did that day. We ask a lot from our parents because their investment is directly related to their scholar’s success.
At the end of each day, I join the debrief with school leadership. It’s important that I’m aware of everything going on in our school building, and I provide our leaders with a unique perspective on day-to-day operations.
I have a long commute home, so I usually try to catch the 5:29 PM train. Some days I leave on a high note, knowing I accomplished so much for kids. Other days are more challenging or draining, and I need to make sure I’m ready to succeed tomorrow. So before I go, I always reorganize my files, wipe down my office tables, and check in with teachers so that I’m ready to hit the ground running when I arrive the next morning.