School Psych Spotlight – Tiphanie Keefe

Tiphanie Keefe is a school psychologist in the spotlight this month. Tiphanie is a native Minnesotan, but was raised in Iowa and has moved often since graduating from Luther College with her BA in psychology. She loves to travel, learn, and feel like she makes a difference. She embodies these joys by serving on the local United Way board, church council, and through being a shareholder member of her local school district.  She enjoys advocating for positive discipline practices at home, and she is becoming more involved in politics. She loves kids, animals, and nature.

Tiphanie received her school psych degree from UW-Stout in Menomonie, WI. She is currently an employee with Keystone AEA and serves schools in Decorah and Waukon. This is her 21st year as a practicing school psychologist, and she has practiced across the U.S. and in Germany (Department of Defense Dependents Schools). She wrote, “,,,each place has been unique and has it’s pros and cons.”  She enjoyed that Minnesota, at the time, had social workers in the building who provided direct services to students and families. Together she and the social worker provided wraparound services to families and worked closely with social services, psychiatric, and other agencies; however, she also completed many IQ tests because it was a test and place model at that time.  In Germany, her role consisted of testing but also counseling.  She lived in Germany for five years and was there during 9-11 and the outbreak of the war. She provided grief and loss counseling services to students as parents were being deployed and in combat during the war. In Montana, her responsibilities combined her roles of her last two positions, testing and counseling. The area she served had a high rate of poverty and abuse, and during that time she learned more about positive discipline practices and tried to share new ideas with the families.

She moved back to Iowa five years ago. When she moved back, she became a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator which is based on Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline theory. Her role now is helping teachers implement evidenced based interventions and problem solve student’s needs and how to meet those needs.  She is currently on Keystone’s Mental Health team, which has been offering professional development on issues such as trauma informed care, Lifelines training, ACES, Anxiety/Depression, and self-harm.  The team is also creating a website that will be a resource for teachers who are looking for practical strategies for helping students who have mental health difficulties. She wrote, “I LOVE being on our mental health team and am excited about how much we’ve done and our plans for the future.”

When asked what she most enjoys about being a school psychologist, Tiphanie wrote, “I enjoy being able to serve families and children and being part of team that problem solves on how to best meet a student’s needs. I enjoy researching and offering evidenced based interventions and strategies in academics and behavior to the students I serve. In previous settings, I’ve enjoyed providing counseling services and meeting mental health needs.”

While she enjoys what she does, she wrote, “I wish there were mental health services in our schools.  I’d like to see social emotional learning and trauma informed care practices being taught and practiced in every school in Iowa. I would like to see direct teaching of emotional health and practices that prevent suicide. I would like to be able to have more professional judgment, and when I feel there is a need I would like to be able to give an IQ test without having to get permission.”