James Madison University

Nick Curtis Named Virginia’s School Psychologist of the Year

PHOTO: Nick Curtis Award

Nick Curtis of Madison County Public Schools is Virginia’s School Psychologist of the Year.  The Virginia Academy of School Psychologists (VASP) awards the honor annually near the start of each school year.

VASP President Erika Daniel, head of the selection team, cited Mr. Curtis’ “exceptional crisis response services for students, educators, and families,” which have received “repeated and emphatic acclaim” within his school system.

In a letter supporting Mr. Curtis’ nomination Dr. Matthew J. Eberhardt, Superintendent of Madison County Public Schools, reported relying “on my school psychologist at every step” during the 2013-2014 year. That year, the small rural system experienced repeated stressful events, including the deaths of three students and a teacher.   The year also saw significant safety concerns including an active shooter near the middle/high school complex resulting in a multi-hour lockdown.  Following each of these incidents, the number of students reporting significant stress rose dramatically.

“In addition to recovery and healing, we focused heavily on additional prevention efforts,” Curtis says.   Lessons from the tragedies were used “to create an even more positive and proactive environment for students.” 

Tina Weaver, Madison’s Director of Teaching and Learning, reports that Mr. Curtis helped to manage the crisis in numerous ways.  Mr. Curtis arranged for outside counselors for students and staff as well as providing short-term services himself.  He worked with teachers to implement within-classroom means of identifying students who might benefit from mental health services.   In addition, he created a newsletter to inform families and offer further support.

Mr. Curtis remains with Madison County Public Schools part time this year.  He is now pursuing a doctorate at James Madison University where he has also served as an adjunct instructor.

Republished with permission from Virginia Academy of School Psychologists.