WATERBORO  A week before she was honored as the 2018 Maine School Psychologist of the Year, Dr. Cheryl O’Heir of RSU 57 in Waterboro said that she had proctored a WISC-5 (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) assessment for a child.

Her test-taker, an elementary student, was asked what the word coat meant, and she found it difficult to stifle a laugh when the student turned to her “with an incredulous expression, saying ‘At your age, you should know what a coat is.”

Dr. Cheryl O’Heir, left, is congratulated by RSU 57 School Superintendent Larry Malone for being honored as ‘2018 Maine School Psychologist of the Year.’ SUBMITTED PHOTO

This student and others fill a portion of O’Heir’s workday as a school psychologist for the RSU 57, where she has been advocating for its students for nearly two decades. In her position, she acts as a resource for the district in promoting student welfare, and serves as a liaison between parents and their children.

The assessments she proctors, like the Stanford-Binet (similar to the WISC-5), estimate a child’s psychological development, for the purpose of identifying and aiding students with learning disabilities in the district as a whole.

Moreover, she is an active participant in the field, and continues to standardize upcoming materials to be used in schools across the state. But standardized school psychology, with respect to the National Association of School Psychology, has a brief history in the state of Maine.

When O’Heir began as a psychologist in the 1980’s, her certification was processed by the Board of Psychology and she was titled asa a “Psychological Examiner.”

The title would change by her own design, feeling that the duties she performed reached beyond the role of psychologist, and soon she was credited as “Nationally Certified in School Psychology.”

With the distinction made, and a growing circle of professional colleagues, she was eventually asked by the governor to serve on the Advisory Committee for School Psychology, an organization she would chair for three years.

Since then, her work with the Maine Association of School Psychologists in coordination with NASP has codified the title of “School Psychologist-Specialist,” for those with a license as a psychologist.

Her work with NASP and MASP, in addition to her “outstanding contribution to the betterment of RSU #57 schools,” committed to school safety and student success across its seven buildings, led to her award.

O’Heir is the third psychologist to receive the award since its inception in 2015, and continues to work as an advocate for students.

She relies on her family members, who “far and wide often provided assistance with standardizing new instruments” and provide an audience to network and interact with.

Her career in psychology continues as usual, stretching into its fourth decade. At a recognition ceremony on Oct. 29 at Harraseeket Inn in  Freeport, she thanked her administrative team for their diligence, and RSU #57 school board for their continued support.

She recognized her close colleagues Al Bloom and Victoria Reynolds, and the thorough work of the Special Education Department.

And above all else, O’Heir said she thanks students and those alike who challenged her.

“And yes, I do know what a coat is,” she said.

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