School Psychologists

  • School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students that strengthen connections between home and school.  School psychologists work to find the best solution for each student and situation; they use different strategies to address student needs and to improve school and district-wide support systems.

    School psychologists work with students individually and in groups. They also develop programs to train teachers and parents about effective teaching and learning strategies, techniques to manage behavior at home and in the classroom, working with students with disabilities or with special talents, addressing abuse of drugs and other substances, and preventing and managing crises.

    In addition, most school psychologists provide the following services.


    • Collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to find effective solutions to learning and behavior problems.
    • Help others understand child development and how it affects learning and behavior.
    • Strengthen working relationships between teachers, parents, and service providers in the community.


    • Evaluate eligibility for special services.
    • Assess academic skills and aptitude for learning.
    • Determine social-emotional development and mental health status.
    • Evaluate learning environments.


    • Provide psychological counseling to help resolve interpersonal or family problems that interfere with school performance.
    • Work directly with children and their families to help resolve problems in adjustment and learning.
    • Provide training in social skills and anger management.
    • Help families and schools manage crises such as death, illness, or community trauma.


    • Design programs for children at risk of failing at school.
    • Promote tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity within the school community.
    • Develop programs to make schools safer and more effective learning environments.
    • Collaborate with school staff and community agencies to provide services directed at improving psychological and physical health.
    • Develop partnerships with parents and teachers to promote healthy school environments.

    Research and Planning

    • Evaluate the effectiveness of academic and behavior management programs.
    • Identify and implement programs and strategies to improve schools.
    • Use evidence-based research to develop and/or recommend effective interventions.
    Contact Information
    Thornridge:     Vince Amador
    Thornton:        Rochelle Jackson
    Thornwood:    Noni Coleman
    Helpful Resources for Parents:



    This guide is a brief overview for preparing for what happens after your son or daughter graduates high school.  If your child is just moving into the high school this may seem a long way off, but the high school years pass very quickly.  Graduation from high school will bring many changes, especially since they will no longer have the daily support from the school.  There is a limited amount of services for adults with cognitive disabilities and the waiting list for services is very long.  In order to ensure that they have programs and services available for them following graduation, steps have to be taken now to help prepare them. 


    Every year at your child’s annual review, you will be asked to participate in developing a Transition Plan as part of their IEP.  This plan helps parent, student and school staff to focus on what types of work, education and living arrangements your daughter or son would like following high school.  This helps all of us to help them plan for their life following high school. The Transition Plan is not a guarantee of these services happening, but is a guide to assist you in planning for the future. 

    As we begin to look at future job preferences, job training, and living arrangements following high school, it is important to be realistic about your child’s skills and limitations.


    Your son or daughter will need to be registered with SUBURBAN ACCESS. 

    Suburban Access is the local agency the state has chosen which provides service coordination for children and adults with cognitive disabilities.  Suburban Access connects you with services that your son or daughter will need following graduation such as day workshops, vocational skill training, job coaches, support at a job site, as well as group home and semi-independent living apartments.   The State of Illinois set up a database called PUNS, which stands for “Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services”.  This state list keeps track of individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities and their service needs.  Suburban Access will assist you in completing the PUNS questionnaire.   

    The PUNS questionnaire must be filled out with the intake coordinators at Suburban Access.  The school cannot refer,  make placements or appointments at Suburban Access.   This must be arranged by you, the parent.  You can contact Suburban Access at their Homewood Office.  Their phone number is 708-799-9190.  The address is 925 W. 175 St., Homewood, Il  60430.   When you contact them, ask for the intake coordinator and tell them that you want to schedule an interview for the PUNS.  It is really important for this to be done because access to all services and funding following high school, are linked to this process.  It is important that this be done immediately after your child starts high school because the waiting list for services is very long, sometimes as long as 5 years or more.


    The first step your son or daughter will take in their vocational training is their Vocational Skills Class.  This class teaches job readiness skills.  Students learn skills such as managing money, basic math, using checks, filling out job applications, interviewing skills, and other job readiness skills.  They will take the Vocational Skills Class every year they attend high school.


    The Office of Rehab Services is a state agency that works with the school.  As students turn 16, they are referred to ORS.  This state agency assesses needs and may be able to provide training funds for students who work in the building as part of their training.  In addition, as they become adults, ORS can provide funding for job training, and job coaches in community jobs.  During the student’s Sophomore Year, the School District’s Vocational Coordinator will refer the students who become 16 years old to ORS.  You will receive a letter informing you of this.  Your student will come home with paperwork that needs to be filled out and you will be invited to attend an interview meeting with an ORS representative.  It is important that you attend this meeting so they are eligible to receive these services.

    When your child turns 18, ORS will again be contacted.  They will need to transfer their case to an adult case worker.  This will be discussed as they approach 18.


    During the student’s Junior year, efforts are made to place the student in a job in the school building as part of their educational programming.  Examples of some of the jobs previous students have held are: cleaning the cafeteria, office aides, collecting recycling, delivering news papers to classrooms, assisting building personnel in delivering packages, preparing school newsletters for mailing, and other jobs.  To be considered for a job in the school building, students must demonstrate job readiness skills such as being on time for classes, doing work that is assigned in classes, attending school daily, and having a positive attitude toward doing their work.  Building jobs are only offered to students who have clearly demonstrated job readiness skills.

    If a student has been made eligible through ORS (see above), there is the possibility that they can be paid for their work.

    Students who have excellent job skills in their Building Job may be referred for a job in the community as part of their school day. 


    During the Senior year, most of the students will turn 18 years old.  Understand clearly that when your son or daughter turns 18, they will be their own Legal Guardian.  This means that they can make their own medical, financial, educational and other decisions.  If your student is their own guardian that means they will be able to sign loan and other legal documents without your consent.  They will be able to make medical decisions without your consent.  Because of the HIPPA medical laws, this means that their doctor cannot talk to you without signed permission from your son or daughter.  Some of the students will be able to handle this responsibility, while others will not.    You should discuss this with your family and determine if you need to seek guardianship for your son or daughter.  Assuming Legal Guardianship for your daughter or son is a legal process that has to be done in court,  at the Daily Center in Chicago.  Guardianship cannot be initiated until your student reaches 18 years old.  More information about guardianship will be given to you as you child approaches 18.


    Parents and students must determine when the student wishes to graduate.  If all graduation requirements are met, your son or daughter can graduate with their class at the end of their Senior Year.  Some parents and students feel the need for the student to remain in school longer and may choose to do so.  Special Education Students are eligible to remain in school until age 21. 

    The year that your student is graduating, you will need to inform ORS and Suburban Access at least 6 months prior to graduation.    If your child needs a workshop, day placement or other services, you will need to work with Suburban Access in finding these services.  ORS needs to be informed that your child will graduate so that they can transfer your student’s case to a case worker for adults. 

    We hope that you have found this Transition Guide helpful.  If you have any questions on any of the material on this form, please feel free to contact your schools Vocational Coordinator, Special Education Department Chairperson, Social Worker or School Psychologist.