April Turner, an alumna of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s school psychology program, has been named the 2022 School Psychologist of the Year by the National Association of School Psychologists. She received the award Feb. 16 at the NASP 2022 Annual Convention in Boston.
Turner holds multiple degrees from Nebraska. She earned a master’s degree in educational psychology in 2006 and a doctoral degree in school psychology in 2012, both from the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education and Human Sciences. The award recognizes Turner’s commitment to the profession not only through her advocacy efforts to address the needs of children, families and schools, but also her work in broadening the pathways for future school psychologists.
“This award represents the collective work of so many mentors, teachers, professors and colleagues who have mentored and supported me throughout my career, from graduate school at UNL to present day,” Turner said in a statement. “I hope to continue to amplify the skills, knowledge and expertise of school psychologists while advocating for school psychology practices that support social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.”
NASP’s School Psychologist of the Year is awarded for excellence in the provision of school psychological services and is selected from nominations by states across the country. Turner is currently the school psychological services supervisor at the Maryland State Department of Education in Baltimore. Prior to taking that position, she served as a school psychologist in Baltimore City Public Schools for nine years. In both her practitioner and administrative leadership roles, Turner has focused on evidence-based service delivery and effectively using data-collection and decision-making systems to support student success. In addition, her commitment to professional advocacy has helped build and strengthen sustainable pathways to leadership for school psychologists.
“This past year-and-a-half have been difficult on many levels,” said NASP President Laurie Klose. “Despite all the challenges we have seen in schools, April’s tireless dedication to the field of school psychology, desire to support students, and uplifting of her colleagues secured her place as NASP’s 2022 School Psychologist of the Year. I am proud we have someone as committed as Dr. Turner working in the field.”
Turner served in a comprehensive role with Baltimore City Public Schools, working with general education and special education students while addressing individual and systemic barriers to student success through academic, mental- and behavioral-health interventions. Turner also worked to increase family engagement and involvement by focusing on communication and community buy-in. In the face of the dual struggles of COVID-19 and racial injustice, Turner was instrumental in organizing an affinity support group for school psychologists of color to navigate working virtually and managing racial inequalities and stressors.
Turner’s contributions to the profession, engagement in leadership development and advocacy for the success of all children is evident in the programs, services and collaborations she has engaged in, as well as in the accolades of her colleagues.
“The record of her achievements is lengthy, but even so, it pales in comparison to the personal impact that Dr. Turner has had on our careers as a mentor, colleague and friend,” said one colleague. Another said it is clear why Turner is a successful leader, as she “leads with integrity and compassion.” Others echoed those sentiments, asserting that she “stands out as a bright, engaging and strategic thinker who consistently uses her voice to speak for those who may not have the power or privilege to do so” and is a “tireless advocate for the field of school psychology.”
The National Association of School Psychologists represents 25,000 school psychologists throughout the United States and abroad, empowering them to improve students’ learning, behavior and mental health.