Nicole Roberts found out early on that teaching wasn’t for her. What she did find was an affinity for helping students with special needs.

“As a teacher I had numerous students in my classroom with behavioral problems and I honestly had no idea what to do with them,” she said. “It felt like I kept on asking for help and no one really had an answer or a solution. So I decided to find answers on my own and went back to school.”

MORE ABOUT ROBERTS

DOG Boston terrier, Sasha HOMETOWN Binghamton N.Y. HOBBIES Yoga

The Hartly Elementary School teacher tries not to limit herself to the classroom. In her own time she teaches yoga classes and coaches “Girls on the Run,” a nonprofit that instills confidence in young girls.

This passion for teaching resulted in her being 2016’s Delaware School Psychologist of the Year.

Why did you become a psychologist?

I have always enjoyed working with children. I was first a Head Start teacher. I quickly began to notice a great need for people to help educators manage and change challenging behaviors. So I decided to go back to school and work on my degree as a school psychologist.

What keeps you moving forward?

It’s the little things. A teacher thanking me for an idea, a kid using a strategy we practiced, a parent feeling some relief because their child is getting the services they need to learn. All of the day-to-day celebrations move me forward.

What is most challenging about being a psychologist?

I enjoy jumping in and consulting on cases. But I’ve had to learn to slow down. Sometimes the best intervention is time spent listening to one another. Some other challenges are lack of mental health resources for our students and difficulties collaborating across agencies. There just aren’t enough supports and those that exist don’t always work together.

What does the average person need to know about school psychologists?

Often we are confused with guidance counselors, social workers or clinical psychologists. A school psychologist supports teachers and students to maximize academic success. We apply training in mental health, learning theory and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally.

How did you feel about being Psychologist of the Year?

I couldn’t believe it! Honestly, I work with so many amazing people who teach me new things every day that I didn’t feel like I could possibly receive such an award. I’m grateful that my principal, Tammy Augustus, director of special services, Joyce Denman, wrote me an outstanding letter of reference. I’m honored they took the time to recognize my devotion to Capital School District and our kids.