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Counseling, Therapy, and School Psychology

Meet new faculty member Elena Diamond

November 06, 2013

Elena Diamond, assistant professor and clinical coordinator in the School Psychology Program, nurtures a passion for learning and academic readiness for all of her students,  from pre-K classrooms to the graduate level. Her research explores strategies for evaluating school readiness, setting students on positive academic paths, and identifying aspects of students’ performance that might help to close the achievement gap. Diamond urges her graduate students to work hard, plan ahead, ask questions, and have fun—and to treat the coursework like a career.

What do you most enjoy about working in schools?

I love the sense of community that comes when working within a school system. Now, as I work with graduate students who are working in schools for their practicum and internship experiences, I really encourage them to immerse themselves in their school communities. For example, I encourage graduate students to be a part of the school’s welcoming committee at the beginning of each day, greet students as they arrive on campus, eat lunch in the cafeteria or teachers’ lounge, and attend back-to-school nights. Each school presents its own unique culture and offers a rich variety of experiences that extend well beyond normal graduate school hours and assignments. A practicum or internship experience is exponentially more valuable when our students are fully immersed in the process.

Can you describe your research and its approach to early intervention and screening?

Research indicates that a positive experience as early as kindergarten sets students on a path for future academic achievement. The goal with screening is to help identify any students who may need some additional supports and to provide that structure sooner rather than later as a means to promote overall success and work to close the achievement gap.

My research has primarily focused around evaluating school readiness screeners and the connection between student readiness and academic trajectories over time. The construct of school readiness goes beyond academic readiness and includes social-emotional readiness, physical and health readiness, and school-ready knowledge. My work has sought to provide students, families, and schools with support across all areas of readiness to help make the transition into kindergarten a smooth and successful one.

What impresses you most about Lewis & Clark students?

I have been very impressed by how eager students are to learn and how actively they are engaged with the material. In each of my courses students are diving right in, asking questions and thinking critically. I have really enjoyed the thoughtful discussions that have already taken place in only the first few weeks of the semester. I can sense the overwhelmingly genuine desire to learn. I’m excited to be a part of it and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

What opportunities have you explored in the Portland area?

I have eaten a lot—Portland has so many great restaurants. Radar is a new favorite. I also enjoy day trips to the mountains, wine country, the coast, and to my home town outside of Eugene. (Go Ducks!)