Rules of Thumb for Change Agents

I was barely 23 years old when I began my career as a school psychologist. I probably looked like I was sixteen. Aside from that, I was working in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the fourth largest school district, one of the most politically charged and ethnically diverse systems in the United States.

I made my share of naive mistakes, because as any young person does, I thought I knew it all. That is, until I knew I didn’t. I worked hard, networked, and volunteered my time. I listened, took responsibility for my mistakes, and stayed true to what meant most to me..the kids. By the end of my first year, I was asked to join a committee with the Assistant Superintendent in writing the new eligibility criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities. A new federal law was enacted in 2010 and school districts across the United States were watching to see how M-DCPS handled the changes. By my second year, I was elected President of the Date Association of School Psychologists. Not before long, I realized that I wanted to be on the other side of the school system advocating for children.

Advocacy has been challenging this school year. Out of a dozen IEP meetings, two have gone smoothly. I have found myself reflecting on my days as a school psychologist and digging up my “oldie, but goodie” research articles. This article is of special importance to me. My first, and probably most influential mentor, Dr. Peter Caproni, a Licensed Psychologist and Professor at Nova Southeastern University, shared this with me when I was a rookie. It helped me manage the politics of the system, and of course, gave he and I a reason to laugh after “playing God a little.”

If you are navigating any political system, this article applies to you. If you are a parent with children in the school system, find an advocate and remember….Stay Alive…Never Work Uphill…and Play God a Little…

Rules of Thumb for Change Agents

By: Herbert Shepard