Lehigh University
Lehigh University


A career comes full circle

Ed Shapiro

Ed Shapiro, director of the Center for Promoting Research to Practice and professor in the school psychology program in the College of Education, has been honored by his peers for his pioneering research in the area of school psychology.

In a career that has literally come full circle, Shapiro’s lifelong commitment to progressive research was the cause of celebration at the 2006 American Psychological Association (APA) Convention in August. It’s there that he was presented the Senior Scientist Award by the APA’s Division of School Psychology.

It also happens to be the same audience that recognized Shapiro for similar successes two decades earlier.

A rewarding start

In 1987, the APA’s Division of School Psychology recognized Shapiro with the prestigious Lightner Witmer Award, an honor annually bestowed upon a young, promising scholar in the field.

Shapiro, who had just completed his fifth year at Lehigh’s College of Education, was honored for his work in the area of self-management for students with limited cognitive ability as well as applying the principles of behavioral assessment to the evaluation of academic skills.

In Shapiro’s case, it was a sign of greater things to come.

That award was the first chapter in what has been a long and productive career in school psychology. Shapiro’s research has taken him down an interesting path that includes the study of non-standardized methods of assessing academic skills problems in children.

“I discovered early in my career that few researchers recognized that there were links between the methodologies of behavioral assessment when evaluating students referred for behavioral problems, and the potential of using these same methods when students with academic skills problems were referred,” he explains.

The approach was typical of Shapiro’s strong commitment to carefully listening to the needs of those in the trenches, such as teachers and healthcare providers, and responding with research-based solutions. And it’s the same approach that set him on the path to the 2006 Senior Scientist Award almost 20 years later.

“Winning these two awards places a symmetry and bookends around my career—a career which is far from over, I hope,” he says with a grin. “But to receive this type of recognition from my fellow colleagues is a tremendous validation of my own personal view of my lifelong pursuit of bringing research to practice.”

According to the APA’s Division of School Psychology, the Senior Scientist Award is presented to school psychologists who, throughout their careers, have demonstrated exceptional programs of scholarship that merit special recognition.

Just as important, it’s not about the amount of writing and research done by a nominee, but rather for a sustained program of outstanding theoretical and research activity.

The award places Shapiro in rare company. Not many can stake claim to being honored as an association’s top performing researcher 20 years apart. To Shapiro, that level of achievement is more than just a personal accomplishment.

“Lehigh is a thriving environment for my colleagues and me,” Shapiro says. “Awards like this certainly help build our reputation as one of the very top school psychology programs on a national level.

“More than anything else, it’s a reflection on how innovative our College of Education truly is,” he adds.

Sally A. White, dean of the College of Education, says: “The colleagues and I could not be more thrilled for Ed as he has contributed so much to the field of school psychology and it is terrific to be acknowledged by your national organization with such a high honor.”

The next chapter
Shapiro, however, is hardly ready to rest on his laurels.

“There are so many topics in education that are timely and important, and it’s hard to follow just one path,” Shapiro says. “Right now, I have two major directions for my work, one of which is actively researching the implementation of the ‘Response to Intervention’ process.”

Response to Intervention is a method that can provide ways to prevent children from developing academic skills problems. The method can also help identify students with learning disabilities.

Additionally, Shapiro, along with colleagues George DuPaul at Lehigh and Tom Power at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, are continuing research they began about nine years ago in an area they call “pediatric school psychology.”

“Actually, our writing and discussion in this area has launched what appears to be a new subtype of school psychology, and the potential influence of this work may result in shaping the training efforts of school psychologists across the country,” Shapiro says.

--Tom Yencho

Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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