Student Services » School Psychologists

School Psychologists

North Palos School District 117
School Psychologists

Karen Canning, Shannon Parquette, Leeza Vargas, Michele Ziliniskas

What do School Psychologists do?

School psychologists focus on helping children succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.  They strive to create a safe, healthy, and supportive learning environment and strengthen the connections between home and school by teaming up with educators, parents, and other mental health professionals.

Who do School Psychologists work with?

  • Students
  • Families
  • Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Communities 

What skills do School Psychologists need?

A broad range of skills that enables them to engage in:

  • Consultation with school personnel and families
  • Assessment of academic skills, cognitive functioning, social/emotional development, mental health, and eligibility for special services
  • Individual, group, and organizational interventions, including counseling 
  • Research different programs and evaluate their effectiveness
  • Identifying and developing effective programs and strategies
  • Parent and teacher workshops to help them better understand and support student's needs 


Work with students to:

  • Increase achievement by assessing learning styles and instructional strategies to improve learning 
  • Provide support and counseling to those who are struggling with social/ emotional and behavioral problems 
  • Promote positive behaviors, a healthy self-image and overall development 
  • Develop communication skills, social skills, problem-solving, anger management, self-regulation, and optimism 
  • Enhance understanding and acceptance of diversity
  • Identify and address learning and behavior difficulties


Work with students and families to:

  • Identify learning and social/emotional difficulties that interfere with educational success
  • Address these difficulties to help optimize their educational experience 
  • Evaluate eligibility for special education services
  • Support students’ overall development including their social, emotional, and behavioral health
  • Teach parenting skills and enhance home-school collaboration and communication
  • Help identify community support options and assist in coordinating services


Work with Community Providers to:

  • Identify appropriate community supports and help coordinate the delivery of services in and outside of school 
  • Assist in the transition of students to and from school and community learning environments


Work with teachers to:

  • Identify and address academic deficit areas and help develop strategies to facilitate learning
  • Design and implement student progress monitoring systems
  • Support individualized instruction strategies
  • Establish positive learning environments within the classroom as well as school-wide
  • Motivate all students to learn

Work with administrators to:

  • Collect and analyze data
  • Use data to develop strategies focused on improving student performance and overall development
  • Implement school-wide programs that help establish and maintain positive school climates conducive to learning
  • Promote school policies and practices that ensure the safety of all students
  • Respond effectively to crises
  • Ensure comprehensive school mental health programming

School Psychologists take time to get to know the students and the staff to best support all of their needs.  It is our goal to help make students available to learn and to facilitate their educational experience in any way we can.  We support the teachers in their efforts to address all of the needs of the students - focusing on the whole child and various areas of development.