Dr. Constance Patterson Beloved Leader in Psych Community Dies July 8

 

Constance Kindrick Patterson passed away on July 8 after a battle with renal cancer. She was a leader in the psychology community who touched many lives as colleague, supervisor, mentor and friend. She embraced her community and the people in it with integrity, wisdom and a genuine caring for others and dedication to excellence in the profession.

She served as President of the Louisiana School Psychological Association, as Coordinator of the School Psychology Program and Professor of Practice in the Psychology Department of Tulane University, and as Director in the Executive Council for the Louisiana Psychological Association. She conducted a private practice, supervised interns, and served as an investigator for the state psychology board, as well as many other community roles.

A private tribute and ceremony was held on July 23 in Slidell where family and friends shared stories about Dr. Patterson, “Conni,” and afterward spread her ashes in Moonraker Lake.

Later that day a public gathering was held at one of Conni’s favorite places in Algiers, her adopted community and neighborhood. Friends honored her at The Old Point Bar, located at 545 Patterson Street, Algiers Point, at the curve of the Mississippi River.

Constance Kindrick Patterson, PhD, born in 1952, had a full professional life–she branched out into the social fabric of school psychology and was embraced for her character, values and dedication to excellence.

Tulane colleague Dr. Bonnie Nastasi said, “School psychology in the U.S. is a complex network, with changing relationships and crossed paths. Conni’s presence in my professional life is a great illustration of this. I initially met Conni when she was a doctoral student at Illinois State University and I was a faculty member. I moved on from there, Conni completed her program, and later joined LAS*PIC (located in New Orleans, my hometown) as director of internship program in school psychology and remained in that position until Katrina,” Natasi said. “For several years, she and I were faculty members in the school psychology program at Walden University where she directed field placements. Eventually we both returned to New Orleans and assumed faculty positions in the School Psychology Program at Tulane…”

“Over the years,” Nastasi said, “Conni has been a dear colleague and friend. I have had the utmost respect for her wisdom, professional knowledge and expertise, integrity, and caring spirit.”

Mark Swerdlik, PhD, CoCoordinator, Graduate Programs in School Psychology and Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University, also
knew Conni in many roles. “My relationship with Conni spanned over three decades,” said Dr. Swerdlik, who was her colleague in clinical practice, then her program advisor, internship supervisor and dissertation co-chair when she was a doctoral student at Illinois State University. “…and since 2012 we were university educator colleagues,” he said. “Conni was a wonderful colleague always willing to offer case consultation.”

“I remember being very impressed with her clinical insights,” he said. “Over the years she was coordinator, I recall being impressed with how seamlessly she seemed to be able to mentor interns and then transition to that of colleagues and so many former interns became her close friends.”

Dr. Alan Coulter, Senior Manager at the Human Development Center LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) also knew Conni as both intern and colleague. “I knew Conni from 1994 until the day she died,” Dr. Coulter said. “I have known her as intern, school psychologist, coordinator of LAS*PIC, graduate educator, independent practitioner, and friend. Conni Patterson was a stalwart professional who embodied the highest ideals of our profession. She was a deeply caring individual who solemnly upheld her commitments especially in the guidance of interns as they expand their knowledge and skills.”

Dr. Constance K. Patterson earned her doctorate in 1999 from the APA Accredited school psychology program at Illinois State University, where she also received her masters and undergraduate. She had earlier begun her career in clinical and worked with children and families.

She completed her School Psychology Internship in 1995 from the Human Development Center, the then LSU Medical Center, and worked as a Certified School Psychologist in Harvey, Louisiana, for the Jefferson Parish Public School System.

Her dissertation was, “Student, Teacher and School Setting Factors Affecting Classification of Students with Emotional/ Behavioral Disorders: A Study of One School System in Louisiana.”

Between 1997 and 2006, she served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Human Studies, School of Allied Health Professions LSUHSC and was the CoDirector for the Internship Consortium, then moved to the Quality Assurance Coordinator, for the National Center for Special Education Accountability Monitoring, at the Human Development Center, LSUHSC. By 2004 she had received her license from the state psychology board in School Psychology.

“I seem to also recall,” said Dr. Swerdlik, “that when Conni was searching for a school psychology internship among several sites she was considering the Louisiana School Psychology Internship Consortium,” he said. “She wasn’t sure about this internship as she had not previously lived in New Orleans. As we all know Conni fell in the love with the city and it’s people and they with her and as they say the rest is history.”

In 2006 Conni worked at Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona and also took a position as Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology for Walden University.

By 2011 she turned all of her attention to Louisiana, working for Plaquemines Parish School, and taking a position with Tulane, where she served as Professor of Practice in the Department of Psychology, advancing to Coordinator of the Tulane School Psychology Program.

Conni was an active community member and held a variety of leadership roles. She served as President for the Louisiana School Psychological Association and also as President– Elect, Futures Committee Chair, Membership Chair, Presenter Coordinator, and as Associate Editor and later as Coordinating Editor of the Louisiana School Psychologist.

Some of her other many roles included serving on the Oversight Committee and then on the Advisory Board for the Louisiana Health and Disability Project, on the Advisory Board for the Louisiana Center for Excellence in Autism, and as a School Psychology Focus Group member for the State Department of Education. She served on the Dean’s Committee on Multicultural Issues at LSUHSC and on the Multicultural Training Advisory Committee at the LSU Human Development Center. She was Chair of the Supervision Interest Group for the National Association of School Psychologists.

Conni was a regular speaker and lecturer and spoke on a variety of topics. Her presentations at the National Association of School Psychologists included: “Meeting the challenges of providing internship supervision,” with colleague Dr. George Hebert; “Distance education and field experience;” “Practical strategies for supervision of school psychologists;” and “Generational diversity: Implications for consultation and teamwork,” and she presented research with Drs. Alan Coulter, George Hebert and others, on “Fantasies vs. Job Realities: How interns spend their time.”

Dr. George Hebert, friend and colleague, related that he and Conni were the first psychologists to re-enter the New Orleans Public Schools after Katrina. “… History shall record that she was first,” he said, “because as a Southern gentleman, I held the door open for her.”

Conni also presented at the American Psychological Association including: Has school psychology lost its way? New rules for accountability, a symposium with colleague Dr. Coulter; and Creative training partnerships: Designing internship consortia to support preferred practices, a symposium.

She presented at the annual meeting of the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs, Traditionalists, Boomers, Xers, and Millenials: School psychological practice across generations and implications for training;” at the American Society of Ophthalmic Nurses, “Meeting the challenge of working across cultures;” and at the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs.”

She published “Collaborative supervision of internship experiences,” in the Handbook of education, training, and supervision of school psychologists in school and community, with colleague Dr. George Hebert; “Impact of generational diversity in the workplace,” in The Diversity Factor; “School Psychologists as Leaders in a time of change,” in Louisiana School Psychologist; “ Generational diversity: Implications for consultation and teamwork, in Louisiana School Psychologist; and “Working with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning youth: A new training curriculum for school psychologists,” in NASP Communique.

Dr. Carmen Broussard, Professor in Psychology at Nicholls, said, “Conni was available. She was usually in attendance at the state and local level in a number of Dr. Constance Patterson, Beloved Leader continued university and organization events. Her varied experiences in and out of Louisiana led to her thoughtful insight about any matter being discussed,” she said.

“Conni was a friend. She remembered people and she remembered things about them, in a way that made you feel so comfortable. I tried to never miss an opportunity to stop and talk awhile when we crossed paths,” she said. “Conni was a fierce supporter of our profession. She was willing to speak up when needed. She was willing to do some of the work. We owe her many thanks for her service to our organizations and to the many students that she has groomed to carry on.”

Following the announcement of her death, the Louisiana Psychological Association passed a Resolution in her honor, writing: “… Dr. Patterson’s distinguished life includes multiple areas of service and contribution, exhibiting in all she did her dedication to excellence, scholarship, mentoring of others, and the protection and support of the dignity of all people, in all walks of life; …”

One of her interns, Levi Zitting, said, “Her breadth of influence and commitment to quality work in the field was awe inspiring. I hope she can rest in her well deserved peace and that her friends can find comfort.”

Another of her interns, Ms. Connie Morris, said, “She had a way of leading me to answers that helped me develop confidence in my own professional judgment. Even more fortunate for me was the friendship that we shared over the past 20 years,” she said. And, “…we also had several wonderful conversations about life in the abstract and what is truly important in life. During one such conversation, Conni spoke of how meaningful it was to have an impact on the professional development of those who become your peers. For her, it was both an awesome responsibility and a privilege…Truly,” she said, “the privilege was ours.”

“I will miss her terribly,” said Bonnie Nastasi, “but will always cherish the moments of
professional commiseration and casual laughter and companionship. I will miss the opportunity to walk down the hall and visit with her on campus or relax over a glass of wine. Conni’s contributions to the profession will be long remembered and I expect many others will miss her spirit as I will.”

“Everyone that knew her was impressed with her strong character and firm self-control,” said Alan Coulter. “Conni modeled for others that a professional embodies high standards, deep humility, and a good sense of humor…” “Her passion for life and for teaching others was strong and she fought her disease until the last day,” Coulter said. “For Conni, she was intent on being in charge of her own life to the end. There is no way to adequately describe the magnitude of our loss.”

Family and friends composed an obituary including these excerpts:

“Dr. Patterson had a distinguished career during which she mentored more than a hundred professionals and influenced countless others.

“…she carefully shaped training to model effective and ethical practices of interns. Those interns now practice as school psychologists throughout the U.S.

“Dr. Patterson mentored countless school psychologists, teachers, school administrators, and families experiencing challenges. At her passing, many people reached out with stories of how Conni served as an inspirational role model of ethical and family-focused practice. She was an active member of the Algiers Point community in New Orleans supporting the arts, music, and people in need. No one can adequately capture or describe the breadth of her reach and influence on the practice of school psychology and her spirit of reaching out to others.

“During her illness, Conni was supported by her school psychology family and close friends who maintained communication with Conni’s many friends, colleagues, and her family in Virginia. All involved are grateful for mutual support and for Conni’s relief from suffering.

“Conni is survived by her mother, Lorena McCann, her daughter Melanie Hoerner (husband Jerry), her 3 grandchildren, Jared, Caleb and Marley, her sisters, Jean Kindrick, Becky Gibson, Trish Lutz, and Stacey Moffet, and numerous nieces and nephews.

“A memorial school psychology internship fund has been established in her name with the LSU Health Foundation. Donations should be addressed to the Dr. Conni Patterson Scholarship Fund, c/o www.lspaonline.org.”

 

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