Student Profile: Maddie Hayden wants to build learning environments where all students feel safe

Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Maddie Hayden

GGSE: What past experiences made you want to become a school psychologist?
Maddie Hayden: I grew up in a METCO receiving school district in the Greater Boston area. METCO is the nation’s largest voluntary school desegregation program, which allows Boston students to attend better-resourced, predominantly white schools through a lottery system. There are numerous benefits of the METCO program for both urban and suburban students, however, throughout my schooling I witnessed countless inequities. The racism and discrimination that my Boston, and also non-white suburban, peers, faced was abhorrent. Their experiences have been published in a number of news articles over the years, highlighting the need for anti-racist and cultural responsiveness trainings, school climate reform, and better access to mental health services. Ultimately, I want to do better, and I want to serve the underserved. Working as a special education teaching assistant for the past year and a half only solidified my career aspirations. I want to ensure all students feel welcome and supported at school and have equitable opportunities for academic, emotional, behavioral, and social success.

GGSE: What led you to choose the School Psychology M.Ed. program at UCSB for your graduate school work?
Hayden: I knew that any program I chose would prepare me to become a competent school psychologist. However, the School Psychology M.Ed. program at UCSB really stood out to me due to its faculty, social justice mission, attention to school-based mental health, and science-to-practice model. Since the faculty have such a broad range of research interests and talents, I knew the education and training I would receive here would be unmatched. I was also really tired of shoveling snow back in Massachusetts.

GGSE: In your future career as a school psychologist, which population do you hope to work with and why?
Hayden: Right now I am leaning towards junior high/middle school. I’ve really enjoyed working with that age group and helping my 5th grade students prepare for the transition was really rewarding. Middle school comes with its own unique set of challenges, and I’d like to help students navigate the new learning environment and social landscape. There are a lot of opportunities to support adolescents during this difficult, yet foundational period of development, and also set them up for success in high school.

GGSE: When you have free time, what do you like to do?
Hayden: I love anything art related- going to museums, painting, drawing, and especially throwing pottery on the wheel. I also love hiking, cooking, lifting weights, and going to the beach. Since I just moved to California, I’m also looking forward to traveling as much as possible and visiting the state’s national parks!