School psychologist, professor receives lifetime achievement award

School psychologists are integral to student learning and so is preparing these professionals to serve families and schools. The Minnesota School Psychology Association (MSPA) recently honored Dr. Margaret (Peg) Potter, a professor in MSUM’s psychology department, with its Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing the school psychology field. Potter received the prestigious award at the annual MSPA conference.  

The award recognizes outstanding school psychologists who have dedicated their professional lives to the development and betterment of school psychology.   

Dr. Potter has taught at MSUM for 35 years and served as the director of the MSUM Specialist degree graduate program in school psychology for 20 years. She has seen the program grow and flourish.

“We continually graduate quality students and have a strong, well-respected program,” she said.

MSUM is the only Specialist degree level graduate program in school psychology in the Minnesota State system. Many northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota school districts rely on MSUM graduates.

“That's the primary reason this program is here. We need school psychologists.” Potter said.

Jill Carlson, a school psychology alumna and one of Dr. Potter’s students during her first year at MSUM, led a group of regional school psychologists who nominated Potter for this award. Potter is touched by the nomination and award. 

"It means a lot because it comes from people I’ve worked with over the last 35 years, indicating they valued what they received from MSUM,” Potter said.  

Before joining MSUM, Potter was a school psychologist in public schools. She helped develop a research project to implement an alternative method of assessing kids' curriculum-based measurement in schools. This method is now used in almost every school district across the country. When the position at MSUM opened up, she decided to move her focus from doing to teaching.  

Dr. Potter is passionate about her students and preparing them for the school psychology profession. The pandemic has helped people recognize the benefits and value school psychologists bring to schools.   

“The rewarding thing is working with the students and seeing them go out and do great work with teachers, kids, and families in their schools,” Potter said.  

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