One degree? Two degrees? Three degrees? Shaunna Ondrias is unstoppable as she pursues her second master’s through Trinity’s School Psychology program! Shaunna is currently in her second year of the program. Shaunna received her undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M, both with a focus on special education. Prior to the program, Shaunna has been teaching in North East Independent School District (NEISD) in San Antonio. She sat down with us to give us an inside look behind the desk of a teacher in transition to being a school psychologist.
Question: What was it about Trinity’s program that enticed you?
Shaunna: I originally wanted to be an educational diagnostician, but due to my daughter, that didn't work out. So I ended up completing a master's degree in special education. Now that my daughter is old enough to be independent, I have a chance to pursue something that I've always wanted to do, which was school psychology. Plus, it feels like the educational diagnostician is phasing out, with school districts moving more toward using Licensed Specialists in School Psychology or LSSPs.
Question: So did you practice in the field before the program? Did you get a chance to use your special education masters for a little bit?
Shaunna: The reason I took a job in San Antonio ISD was that I had a San Antonio Scholar loan, and I needed to come back to the city. Also I had a stipend for the program and had to teach in a Title I school with low incidence disability. I started teaching in a self-contained classroom called TLC in San Antonio ISD, which is primarily autism and life skills. I did that for two years and then taught special education for 10 years before transitioning into a first-grade position in North East Independent School District. It's been fun to see all the different aspects of elementary school.
Question: How did you find this program?
Shaunna: I was looking for doctoral programs, but there weren’t any in San Antonio for School Psychology. The Trinity program was the best match, it was close to home, and I did not have to retake theory classes. For other programs, I would have had to start that process all over again, so finding Trinity was just good timing.
Question: Can you talk about how the program works?
Shaunna: The first year is a graduate assistantship; the second year is a practicum, and the third year is the internship. I’m in my second year where the practicum is divided by nine weeks and is a rotation on different sites. My first nine weeks, I was placed at NETS, which is the North East Transition Center for students 18-21 years of age with disabilities who work in the community. In January, I was at Reagan High School for nine weeks and then after spring break, I was at the Preschool Assessment Center. We get a plethora of different experiences.
Question: Tell me about what the second year has been like for you?
Shaunna: I'm transitioning from being a teacher, and so it's been interesting. I think of this analogy of like I was used to being the director and the leading actress, but now I'm kind of more of an observer. It’s like I'm part of the film crew watching other people, and it's been an interesting transition to be “behind the scenes” so to speak. But I've learned a lot. It's been humbling to know that I don't need to be involved and other people have this important work.
Question: Where do you hope to be and be doing after the program?
Shaunna: It is hard to say because it depends on the school district and age group you work with, but with my experience I hope to be able to do initial interventions at the elementary level.