SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES UNIT

“To ensure every child develops intellectually, socially, emotional and mentally.”

Ph.: (242)502-2700 / 502-2926 / 502-8584 * Toll Free: 827-9013 * Fax: 323-1156

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In 1967 the Ministry of Education commenced the delivery of psychological services within the educational system. It was not until 1976 that School Psychological Section was established within the Ministry of Education. Bahamian Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Rodney Smith coordinated the section along with Clinical Technician, Ms. Andrea Brennen. The team primarily provided psychological assessment to school-aged children. Following Dr. Smith, American School Psychologist Dr. Katherine Ritzes coordinated the section from 1984 to 1986. After two years of supervising the section, Dr. Ritzes returned to the United States and Clinical Psychologist Valerie Knowles was appointed the School Psychological Unit supervisor. Prior to Mrs. Knowles, psychologists worked closely with the Special Education Unit to assist in identifying students needing Special Education services.

 

Mrs. Valerie Knowles, a former Social Services Officer with a clinical psychology background, introduced the therapeutic aspect to the Unit. Mrs. Knowles initiated the first male gang therapy groups in the schools. Not long after, the late Dr. Myles Munroe assisted her with the male groups. The then Director of Education, Mr. Mark Wilson and Ms. Marjorie Davis worked closely with the School Psychological Unit by involving them in decision making for educational reform.

During Mrs. Valerie Knowles supervision, Assistant School Psychologist Mrs. Monique Wilchcombe relocated to Grand Bahama in 1990 until 1996. 

Philosophy

Who are school

 

psychologists?

What do school psychologists do?

Who do school psychologists work with?

When to refer for services?

Who should make referral?

The Referral Process

This was the start of psychological assessment services in Grand Bahama. Mr. Henry O’Brien, a former Guidance Counselor continued the services of academic assessment in the Grand Bahama District Office from 1997 to 1999. In 2000 Dr. Pamula Mills, a Clinical Psychologist, was appointed to the Grand Bahama District Office as the School Psychologist. Under her supervision, the services expanded to include a holistic approach in rendering psychological services the students. Dr. Mills served in that capacity until 2016. Today, Mr. Sterling Gardiners supervises the New Providence unit with seven School Psychologists that oversea the other Family islands, while Ms. Lakiska Russell supervises the Grand Bahama office with two other School Psychologists and one trainee School Psychologist.

 

Today the School Psychological Services Unit is a part of the Department/Ministry of Education Special Services Section. As School Psychological Services Unit evolved, it continues to provide services to all students, teachers, parents and allied agencies in The Bahamas. The Unit today prides itself for its unique grouping of professionals who specialize in various fields of psychology. The goal of the unit is to understand the mechanics of services use to address the academic, social, behavioral, emotional and mental health needs of the school population so that they can function holistically in the community.

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The Bahamas’ Ministry of Education (MOE) has responsibility for more than 50,000 K-12 students in approximately 170 educational institutions in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, which are dispersed over 14 districts in the major islands. Our goal is to increase the graduation rate from 50% to 85% by 2030. The MOE aims to create an educational system that is technologically sound and competitive and that develops the strengths of each child, whether academic or otherwise, towards the maximum contribution that he/she is able to make to the national development of The Bahamas.

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