I would like to run for the position of president elect of this association.
Actually, I am quite new within ISPA. Only in 2019 did I participate in the conference in Basel for the first time. I regret this was the first time!It gave me an incredible feeling to discover that there are school psychologists worldwide working on almost exactly the same things as myself.It gave me a tremendous energy boost, right at a time when I myself was in need of re-energizing in my thoughts and vision for work.SPA stands for me as the global network of school psychologists who strengthen each other in a fascinating exchange of visions, scientific insights, practical implementations in the field and a particularly keen interest in what colleagues are working on worldwide.
Especially captivated by this organization, I immediately offered to organize a next conference in Belgium. To my pleasant surprise, this happened. With a year’s delay, it went ahead in July 2022 in Leuven. It became for me a highlight in my career, where I found it a special honor to chair the first post-covid ISPA conference.
Meanwhile, I am at the end of that professional career as a school psychologist, but not at all at the end of my involvement in the subject. You can get out of school psychology, but school psychology never can get out of you.
I have been a practitioner my whole career, the past 20 years as manager of a Belgian center for pupil guidance, having about 100 employees of different professions. Meanwhile, from its inception, I was a member of the Flemish Association for School Psychology, the last 5 years as its president. I am also a member of the board of the Belgian Federation of Psychologists, where I am the treasurer. I am also involved in several organizations within welfare and education, including the working group corona and psychology, which gave advice to the Belgian government from 2020 to 2022.
I am not an academic, not a theorist, do not have a doctoral degree, do not work at a university and have not written books and am getting an old man. When someone asked me if I wasn’t interested in running for president elect, that was pretty much what I answered. That person said, “So what? You organize things.”
What can I do for ISPA? Well, I am a practical person, who organizes things, who makes sure that others can give their best, who can make contacts between people who are working on the same issues, who can translate from theory to practice.
I’m fairly new to ISPA, but what I did for the ISPA conference in Leuven, I want to do for the whole association: make sure the organization runs smoothly, with a spirit of like-mindedness.
There are challenges enough. On the one hand, there is the ISPA organization itself. There we can put even more effort into strengthening mutual contacts and exchange. We can further ensure more exchange and visibility of what the various committees and working groups are accomplishing. Achieving greater involvement of members and future members is also a challenge for the coming years. This is certainly the case for those countries that are not currently members of ISPA.
On the other hand, there are the major challenges in our society. Poverty, lack of opportunities for good education, war, but also climate change are issues that are close to the hearts of children and youth. School psychologists can also be significant here. After all, as school psychologists we have a dual role: to be a listening ear and helping hand for our clients, but at the same time to be a voice in making policy people aware of what is alive and what is needed. On the international level, we can start sharing good practices in how to influence governments to do the right things.
It would be a great honor for me at the end of my professional career to still be able to chair this wonderful international organization.