UHV school psychology graduate earns national certification

Marble Falls resident Robert Schiener has a goal of helping as many people as possible who need the services of a mental health professional, and now that he’s received a national certification, he has taken a major step toward that goal.

Schiener, who graduated from the University of Houston-Victoria in May with a Specialist in School Psychology degree, recently received a Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential from the National Association of School Psychologists. He is the first graduate of UHV’s specialist program to receive this certification.

Robert Schiener

“I will never forget my time at UHV because it has equipped me with the tools to be a more successful school psychologist,” he said. 

To receive national certification, applicants have to earn a graduate school psychology degree, complete an internship and take the PRAXIS School Psychology exam, a certification test. In addition, Schiener had to submit a portfolio to demonstrate his abilities and a case study, which were approved after the first review. More than 15,000 school psychologists across the nation have received this certification.

Schiener is now the lead licensed specialist in school psychology for the Marble Falls Independent School District. In that role, he supervises five evaluators as they work to assess students for autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other disabilities. He also consults at schools to help staff and parents.

Schiener said he chose to study school psychology because he is fascinated by the human mind. By studying how students think, there is the potential to figure out how to help them do better in their studies. He also wanted to be able to take current research and apply it to the needs of students. Considering those goals, his education at UHV proved invaluable.

“The professors were extremely knowledgeable about evidence-based research and interventions, and designed creative lessons to help us learn the information,” he said. “In addition, they required students to begin building certification portfolios from Day One because it is a rigorous process that simply can’t be accomplished as easily after graduation.”

One of the advantages of national certification is that it enables school psychologists to work in other states and makes it easier to receive certifications in those states. Currently, 33 states accept this national certification as meeting or partially meeting requirements for state certification.

Elise Hendricker

Schiener’s national certification is exciting for UHV, as well, because his success shows other students they can follow in his footsteps, said Elise Hendricker, UHV associate professor of school psychology and chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences.

“UHV’s program is geared toward helping our students achieve certification whether that is at the state level or nationally,” said Hendricker, who was the program director when Schiener was at UHV. “The process can be daunting, but faculty members are our students’ biggest cheerleaders. I am so excited to see Robert reach this achievement. He always has been the ultimate professional and has a long history of working in education. He’s always had so much potential, and this certification is the cherry on top.”

UHV first offered the Specialist in School Psychology degree program in 2017 after making changes to its Master of Arts in School Psychology program. The specialist degree is one of two terminal degrees at UHV and is the highest degree available at the university.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.