Nate Kindig is a 2021 graduate of Trinity’s Master of Arts in School Psychology program. He attended Davidson College in North Carolina and graduated in 2017 with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. His undergraduate experience of psychology was very research-oriented, but he knew he wanted to pursue a more practice-based career. A conversation with a professor helped him discover the field of school psychology, where he learned that a school psychologist is somebody who is trained to use data in a school setting but is also able to make action plans and recommendations to schools and students in real time using psychoeducational evaluations. Nate learned about Trinity through his sister who attended Trinity to pursue her undergraduate degree and had heard great things about the school. This prompted him to look further into Trinity graduate programs and he discovered the School Psychology program. His parents were also moving to the area at the same time, so the pieces fell together for him to attend Trinity.
Nate was in the second semester of his second year in the program when COVID struck. The content of school psychology is very hands-on and emphasizes the development of skills, so it was a significant shift to adjust to online learning. Nate found that the professors in the program made sure to help their students practice their skills from home in an alternative but effective way. “They figured it out as best as they could, and the professors were super accommodating and creative in figuring out alternative paths to make sure we got what we needed,” Nate said.
Nate’s internship experience was also affected by the pandemic. Typically, the National Association of School Psychology requires that students have 1200 internship hours, but NASP made exceptions due to the pandemic circumstances. Nate’s cohort included eight other students, but in the end despite all the challenges COVID threw their way, they all got the hours they needed in their relative areas and are all Licensed Specialists in School Psychology or LSSPs.
The cohort model allowed the students to collaborate and bond over the three-year program. Nate felt like many resources and knowledge were shared among his cohort, which was an unforeseen benefit of the program. Also being in graduate school, he felt like he had an adult relationship with his professors that allowed them to get to know one another. “It was always very easy to have conversations, because there's an approachability aspect of being in a slightly different stage of life,” Nate said. “The professors all work in the field, so they have a life outside of just teaching too, and they're very understanding of that.”
Nate felt that compared to other assistantship programs in the San Antonio area or South Texas, he got more experience in schools during his first year of the program. The assistantship is 24 hours a week outside of class time. The practicum provides additional hours of practice. “I think for practicum, the training program gives you more than just hours, it gives you experience,” Nate said. “Your assignments are finding school-aged students to practice your assessment skills, and so it really prepares you for the nuts and bolts of the job.” By the time the students get to the field, they are able to focus on figuring out logistics, because they feel comfortable with the actual day-to-day assessments.
For Nate, the program also helped him in developing his organizational skills because in school districts, there's a lot of things to keep track of compared to compliance and dates. “One of the perks about this type of job is that you're the expert,” Nate said. “When you are in the school district, there's no one looking over your shoulder telling you how to do your job. You have your own authority, and you’re the authority of your own workload so having a little bit of organization is definitely helpful.” Nate graduated as a school psychologist in 2021, and is currently working at A.I.M. (Assessment Intervention Management) here in San Antonio Texas.