Position: School Psychologist
School: Florence Wilson Elementary School
School District: Garden City USD 457
City, State: Garden City, KS
Jenna Rycek was nominated by her principal, Skyla Wehkamp.
Explaining complicated testing and the results can be overwhelming for parents, but Florence Wilson Elementary School is fortunate to have a school psychologist who can present the information in layman’s terms. Ms. Rycek puts parents at ease from the get go. She explains that her job is to determine how the child thinks and processes information. She asks parents for their input throughout the meeting and gives parents and teachers the tools to present information to match the way the child learns.
Ms. Rycek goes beyond the typical scope of a school psychologist's involvement with students. She observes her students in the classroom as well as during specials time to get an idea of how they are coping in different subjects. She is on her school's Student Assistant Team, SAT, where teachers bring their concerns about students. Ms. Rycek gives practical advice for the teachers to implement. She has even written herself into the plan to help with challenging students. Her goal is to exhaust all avenues before testing.
"Jenna wants to make a difference in the lives of all students. In our school neighborhood, we have a short-term foster home. Jenna has been a leading advocate for these students, both inside and outside of the school setting. The students may only be with us for ninety days, however, she strives to make them feel part of our school," Wehkamp said.
Last year, she helped with a special Christmas for the residents of the foster home. Each child received their own duffle bag with their name monogrammed on it, as well as clothes, shoes and something from their wish list. Ms. Rycek made sugar cookies and frosting along with sprinkles for the students to decorate and enjoy during the Christmas break.
Ms. Rycek has several schools on her caseload, but she never complains about the numerous extra hours she spends outside of her contracted day to complete her job. She is a wealth of knowledge, and on every Inservice day in the district, you will find her presenting either to the other psychologists, teachers, or support staff members.
Ms. Rycek volunteers to help with activities outside the school day for her building. She understands the importance of building the whole child rather than only tackling academics.
"Over the past twenty five years, I’ve worked with numerous school psychologists, but have never had one that has invested as much time and energy into helping students. She definitely makes a difference in students’ lives everyday!" Wehkamp said.