Four students in Touro College’s Master of Science in School Psychology program have been chosen for the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) bilingual psychologist-in-training internship program, a prestigious and paid internship awarded to only 30 graduate students in the New York metropolitan area.
“I’m proud of our students and faculty,” said Dr. Mel Imas, former director of Touro College’s Master of School Psychology program.“It is a great accomplishment to see how well our students are doing in competition with other school psychology programs. We have earned four highly competitive and very highly-prized scholarships in the psychologist-in-training program, a higher percentage than any of the other schools I know of.”
Dr. Imas said that approximately 120 students apply for the bilingual internships each year. Each student earns $40,000 plus benefits through the DOE internship program. “If 120 students applied, and four out of the 30 who were awarded the internships are from Touro, we’re obviously producing a very good student. In addition, it is satisfying to know that our students will be hired the following year by the New York City Department of Education as full-time practicing school psychologists.”
As part of the DOE program, students agree to work an additional year for the Department of Education after they graduate at a typical starting salary of approximately $55,000. Students also have to pass a New York State language exam and go through an extensive interview process.
The bilingual DOE psychologist-in-training program is one of the few paid school psychology internships in the New York City region. To earn their graduate degree and New York State certification, all students have to complete a 1200-hour, full school-year internship.
The Touro students in the bilingual internship program this year are Jeanette Lam and Carol Tang, who are fluent in Chinese, and Cindy Rodriguez and Esmery De Jesus, who are fluent in Spanish. Currently, the greatest need is for bilingual Spanish-speaking school psychologists.
One of the reasons Touro is so successful in placing students in the psychologist-in-training internships—the college has placed 17 students in the program in the past eight years—is because of the college’s multicultural and multilingual student body, Dr. Imas said. “Currently, we have one of the largest school psychology programs in the United States and within our program is quite a large multicultural and multilingual diversified student body.”
As part of the program, the interns receive extensive in-house training for the first month and are then placed in New York City public schools, where they are trained as bilingual school psychologists with the help of a mentor/supervisor. In addition, the DOE program provides full-day training sessions every Friday at participating colleges that have students in the internship program including Touro College, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Fordham University, Columbia University’s Teachers College, St. John’s University, Pace University and Mercy College. The interns come to Touro twice during the year to attend training sessions on topics such as childhood obesity, successful counseling techniques and evaluating a child’s intelligence in relation to academic performance.