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Chandrai Jackson-Saunders of D.C. Public Schools named National School Psychologist of the Year.

Last updated Thursday, March 12, 2020 08:40 ET

Ms. Jackson-Saunders, first African-American Woman to win the award in its twenty-year history. The award recognizes the importance of addressing unmet needs of the schools, students, and families;

Washington, DC, 03/12/2020 / SubmitMyPR /

Jackson-Saunders of District of Columbia Public Schools named 2020 National School Psychologist of the Year 

WASHINGTON, DC, March 9, 2020 – Washington, DC School Psychologist Chandrai Jackson- Saunders, MEd, CAGS, NCSP, was named National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) 2020 School Psychologist of the Year. Ms. Jackson-Saunders, the first African-American Woman to win the award in its twenty-year history, received the honor on February 19th at NASP’s Annual Convention in Baltimore, MD. 

During the General Session Keynote presentation, NASP President Leslie Z. Paige introduced Ms. Jackson-Saunders by stating “Chandrai's commitment to the profession and advocacy for the success of all children is reflected in the accolades from her colleagues.” 

Dr. Denise Daniels, President of the DC Association of School Psychologists, commented, "She is my hero, not just because of what she has done but because of what she continues to do in the lives of African American children, DCPS educators and administrators, DCPS parents, and the larger community." 

In a Commendation Letter presented to Ms. Jackson-Saunders, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser declares, “Your decades of service demonstrate your exceptional commitment to our youth and their families. Because of you, students who experience difficulty with school or home life, have found support, safety, and the resources necessary to overcome their struggles and to succeed.” 

In describing her approach to her work, Ms. Jackson-Saunders explained, “I advocate for Prevention over Trauma. This includes a focus on social-emotional learning; parental engagement; and community partnerships. School Psychologists are really good at trauma. I want us to be great at prevention. This will require not only psychologists, but educational systems and the community caring for our children to focus on creating a positive environment on the front end with the goal of reducing the amount of trauma on the back end.” 

Ms. Jackson-Saunders has received multiple awards and honors in recognition of her service and advocacy. She was named DC School Psychologist of the Year in 1996. She received the DCPS Mental Health Professional Service Recognition Award in 2004 and the Outstanding Related Service Provider-Program Manager's Award in 2010. More recently, she was recognized for exemplary community service by Kids Smiles Matter, Inc. in 2015; was named Humanitarian of the Year by Sisters in Service in 2017; and in 2019 was awarded the Safety Award for Exemplary Program from the DC Department of Transportation. 

Ms. Jackson-Saunders will commence a speaking tour on the topic of “Prevention Over Trauma” this summer. If you would like to invite Ms. Jackson-Saunders to speak to your organization, please contact Aisha Davis at [email protected]

For more information about CJ Saunders, please visit your website 

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About the School Psychologist of the Year Award 

The NASP School Psychologist of the Year Award recognizes excellence in the provision of school psychological services by a field-based practitioner. The award recognizes the importance and challenge of going beyond day-to-day responsibilities to identify and address the unmet needs of the schools, students, and families being served; to stay abreast of new research and best practices across a range of skill areas; to collaborate with colleagues and parents to improve outcomes; to advocate for improved, evidence-based services and programs, expanded funding, and more effective roles for school psychologists; and to participate in professional leadership activities. Candidates are nominated by their states and are usually the state School Psychologist of the Year. They must.be current members of NASP and practicing school psychologists who spend the majority of their time providing direct services to students, teachers, and parents.