JTPS Psychologists

Welcome to the School Psychologists’ Website


                                                                     Mrs. Schmaling, JT,  & Mrs. Cohen

Shira Cohen, M.S., 6th Year                                                Amanda Schmaling, M.S., 6th Year
Green Pod and Preschool                                                            Yellow Pod and Blue Pod
860-945-2776 ext. 4565                                                                 860-945 2776 ext. 4534
cohensh@watertownps.org                                                schmalingam@watertownps.org 



  • Work with children individually and in groups to teach social-emotional and behavioral skills.
  • Collaborate and consult with teachers, families, and administrators to develop effective strategies related to learning and behavior.  
  • Conduct evaluations as part of the Special Education Process
  • Focus on the whole child by examining academic skills, social-emotional development and learning environments to support individual student success.
  • Promote positive behavior and school climate through a school-wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) program.
  • Provide direct behavioral interventions to students in need.  


We believe every child can and will learn. 


Tip of the Month...

Fostering Independence:
What Parents Can Do

Fostering independence in children is important because it enables the child to develop the skills and confidence necessary for decision making. Independence may also promote social development, allowing children to create appropriate relationships with adults and other children.  Independent children exude enthusiasm and optimism. They can set goals and work to achieve those goals. They learn the cause and effect of their behavior, such as studying in order to pass a test. They also learn that in order to succeed at a new activity, they will need to practice it.

Of course, depending on others is normal at some developmental stages. For example, young children need their parents to provide them with basic needs- food, clothing, and transportation. But dependency becomes a concern when the child begins to rely on others to make decisions, complete personal responsibilities, or for self-help skills. A child’s development of self-reliance can be nurtured by parents avoiding doing for the child what the child is capable of doing for himself/herself. When the child sets goals and strives to reach these goals, his/her confidence and self-esteem is supported.

Strategies to Encourage Independence:

  • Provide for age-appropriate supervision of a child’s play.
    • Allow your child to make his/her own choices during play. (eg. drawing a red sky and blue grass is OK J )
  • Encourage independence in activities.
    • The child’s attempts to get others to do tasks for which he/she is responsible should be ignored, while praise and encouragement should be given promptly for any attempt made to complete tasks independently.
  • Honor your child’s decisions when possible.
    • Give your child freedom to choose between two acceptable choices, since fear of criticism or failure is removed when both choices are acceptable. Gradually extend the choices as your child becomes more confident.
  • Encourage self-reliance
    • Support the child’s completion of a responsibility, such as cleaning the room and making the bed.
    • The child should be praised for the process of completing the task rather than solely for the final result.
  • Foster social development by allowing the child to choose friends and activities.
  • Assist the child in developing problem-solving skills, such as finding solutions in arguments or difficulties.
    • Interceding every time your child has a problem will not help him/her learn to resolve conflict. Instead, allow your child to confront all reasonable conflict using his/her own growing resources.
  • Expose the child to new situations with enough support to promote success.
    • Success will encourage independence while failure will encourage dependence.
  • Expect the child to do well and make good choices.
  • Help the child set achievable goals and work toward achieving those goals
  • Teach your child that mistakes are opportunities to learn
  • Respect the uniqueness of each child!
  • Assure your child of your love. 

Adapted from: National Association of School Psychologists Handout "Fostering Independence: Tips for Parents" by Judith, Kennedy EdS.