Alumna wins psychology award

The FMU Department of Psychology recognized Beth Howell, president of the South Carolina Association of School Psychologists, for the work she has done in the psychology field.

Howell received the Professional Psychology Award at FMU in November of 2017.

Dr. Will Wattles, chair of the department of psychology, said the award goes to a person who has made a difference with their extraordinary accomplishments.

“This award certainly goes to someone who has gone above and beyond,” Wattles said.

According to Wattles, the criteria for the award normally begins with someone who has had local, regional or state leadership positions and accomplishments.

Wattles said the psychology department as a whole made the decision for the award. The point is to choose someone who has made a contribution in the field they studied. 

Her success in the field of psychology started with her undergraduate career at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. 

Howell went on to receive a Master of Science in Applied Psychology, specializing in school psychology at FMU.

Howell said her graduate career at FMU has shaped her understanding of psychology.

“During my graduate work, the FMU program provided me with excellent opportunities to grow my knowledge in the field of psychology,” Howell said.

After graduating from FMU, Howell moved toward her career as a school psychologist. 

Howell said she always knew she wanted to work in the school system but not as a teacher. 

“I really enjoyed working with special needs children,” Howell said. “School psychology kind of fell into my lap when I was deciding what path to go on.”

Although she has become a successful psychologist outside of FMU, Howell has remained a part of the community after graduating in 2007. She has taught undergraduate classes in child development as an adjunct professor. 

Howell has also spent time working with the graduate school psychology program. She has supervised practicum students, students with internships and taught classes regarding school psychology assessments. 

In addition to working at FMU, Howell has worked in Anderson, Marion and is currently working in Calhoun County Schools. 

According to Howell, her current job is to help students aged between 3 years old and 21 years old in Calhoun County Schools. 

“My job is to be ready at all times for whatever comes up,” Howell said. “As a school psychologist, you never know when a crisis is going to come up.”

Howell said her job consists of working with kids who have autism, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities and other various health conditions. 

Howell is also available to find academic support services, provide observations and consultations about individual students and their academic, educational and behavioral needs. 

According to Howell, she is driven by her desire to help children.

“One specific thing that drives my career is seeing the children grow,” Howell said. “Taking that child who is struggling developmentally and being able to figure out why they are struggling and offering suggestions for that really drives me.”

Besides the drive for her career, Howell said there are other parts of psychology that keep her passion always growing.

“I love working with the little ones, especially the preschool kids,” Howell said. “I get to see the progress they can make. After they get the intervention they need, I’ve seen them take their first steps and say their first words.”

Although one of her main jobs is to be there for the children, Howell also said she has to be there for the parents and teachers she works with as well.

Howell said she loves being there for the parents because she can give them answers. Aside from giving them answers, she can also offer emotional support for them during the hard times.

Howell serves as a support system for everyone she comes in contact with as a school psychologist.

“I want to help when a parent is upset or when a teacher needs something,” Howell said. “I just want to be available to offer whatever assistance I can for the people at school.”